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The ‘Difference Engine’: Constructing and Representing the International Identity of the European Union

Publication: ResearchWorking paper

The purpose of this paper is to more fully develop the notion of the international identity of the EU previously suggested by Richard Whitman and myself. I will attempt to balance our previous focus on the ‘active dimension’ of the EU’s attempts to ‘assert its identity on the international scene’ by looking at the ‘reflexive dimension’ of the EU’s international identity from a more sociological perspective. This paper will argue that the distinctive polity perspectives and role representations of the EU can be thought of as a form of ‘difference engine’ which drives the construction and representation of the EU’s international identity. Like Babbage’s original difference engine, the EU’s international identity is not a multiplier of difference, exaggerating the dissimilarities between the EU and the rest of the world through the generation of a new European supranational identity, but functions solely on the basis of addition - by adding an EU element to Europeans’ complex and multifaceted identities.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCopenhagen
PublisherCopenhagen Peace Research Institute
Number of pages31
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

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