An Integration of Discord: How National Identity Conceptions Activate Resistance to EU Integration in the Popular Press Discourses of Poland, Spain and Great Britain

Andrew Clement

Supervisors: Amandine Crespy (ULB) & Matthew Watson (University of Warwick)


The EU has widened and deepened the single market over time according to a transactionalist discourse of common-interests in integration. This rationale holds that as amounts of cross-border movement increase, Member State populations should perceive the single market as beneficial, thus leading to the creation of an affective European identity. Instead, as consequences of integration have become more visible, resistance to the EU has become more pronounced, especially with relation to the Union's right of free movement of persons. This thesis argues that interest-based theories of integration ignore prospects for resilient national identities to influence the accordance of solidarity ties, so as to color interest perceptions within national public spheres. Combining the literature on European identity, moral panic and communication studies on news framing, it maintains that the popular news media provide a conduit through which these interest perceptions can be taken up through the tendency of news outlets to report events that deviantly threaten underlying identity conceptions. Through content analysis of 'popular' press in the UK, Spain and Poland, it seeks to show how the inane tendency of news to report events in terms of an identity-based narrative can serve to foment moral panic within national publics. Contrary to interest based theories of integration, the EU's discourse clashes with national identity. Disintegration may be posited as the 'proper stance' to be supported on the part of the public in news narrative, if threatening deviance caused by EU migration is to be resolved.

This project receives funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No 722826.