Understanding the Constructions of Identities by Young New Europeans: Kaleidoscopic selves, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Understanding the Constructions of Identities by Young New Europeans

Kaleidoscopic selves, 1st Edition

By Alistair Ross


218 pages | 3 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9780415707404
pub: 2014-06-22
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How do young people construct their identities in the complexity of their own country, belonging to the European Union, and being part of global society? This book is based on a unique empirical study of a thousand young people, aged between eleven and nineteen, from fifteen European countries. Covering East European states that joined the EU between 2004 and 2008, and the candidate states of Macedonia, Turkey, Iceland and Croatia, the complex interwoven narratives of young Europeans present an intricate and intriguing analysis of how identities are constructed.

Alistair Ross offers a significant original contribution to the literature on identities, providing a wealth of cross-national data and a wide range of significant theoretical possibilities across a group of related disciplinary areas. Fluid narratives of the self are shown to constitute a rich pattern that varies and modifies as it is seen through the different lenses of national culture, European institutions, and of outsiders.

Themes explored include:

  • the construction of identity
  • the ability to express multiple identities
  • agency and liminality
  • what being a European might mean
  • an emerging sense of contemporary nationalism and patriotism.

This book explains how young people frame their identities, drawing on discourses of culture and society and constructing them through interchanges with friends, family and the media. It will be of interest to academics and researchers in the fields of political sociology, education, European studies, and ethnicity and identity studies.


'The book by A. Ross features a competent and innovative contribution to the understanding of identities of young people in modern Europe, and which is especially valuable, encourages the professional as well as the general public to think about this important and complex social issue.' - Saša Puzic, Institute for Social Research in Zagreb, Revija za sociologiju

‘There are many commonplace views expressed about the complexity and dynamic nature of Europe. However it is rare indeed to get subtle insights into the lives of the people across many different nations.

What Alistair Ross has achieved in this book is quite extraordinary. Talking with almost a thousand young people across fifteen countries towards the eastern side of this area, he has captured the complexity of identities and of identification with nation and with Europe. The whole text is permeated by young people's voices in a very rich way.

We have so much to learn from this work and so much to care about for the future of this extraordinary region in our globalising world. Teachers, politicians, sociologists and many others will benefit enormously from reading this latest instalment in Ross's ongoing journey to track how young people in Europe see themselves and others.’ - Professor Ian Menter, University of Oxford, UK

‘This book about young people’s identities of location is unique. Professor Alistair Ross asks around one thousand young people, in fifteen European countries, how they identify with their nation and with Europe. Listening to them respectfully, he builds his book around their voices. As such the book offers a new, and essential, contribution to our understanding of their multiple and complex identities. I celebrate the publication of this book and encourage people across many disciplines to read it, especially those within education and policy.’ - Professor Sigrún Aðalbjarnardóttir, University of Iceland, Iceland

Table of Contents

Constructing Identities: The Younger Generation in the ‘New’ Europe Part 1: Conceptualising Identities National and Ethnic Constructions in Europe. Talking with Young People about Identities. The Development of the ‘New’ Europe. Identity Discourses and Young People Part 2: National Identities The Nation as a Cultural Entity. The Nation as a Political Vacuum. The Internal 'Other'. Leaving and Staying. Generational Differences and the Nation Part 3: European Identities European Identities: Institutional Values. Europeans and the Characteristics of European Culture. European Identities: The Borderlands. Generational Change and European Identities Part 4: Contingent Identities Country and Europe: Institutional and Political Othering. Country and Europe: Cultural Othering. Kaleidoscopic Identities.

About the Author

Alistair Ross is Emeritus Professor of Education at London Metropolitan University, UK, and Jean Monnet Professor of Citizenship Education in Europe.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDUCATION / Educational Policy & Reform / General