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Research Article

Towards a Social Representational Approach to Citizenship: Political Positioning in Lay Conceptions of the Belgian and of the European Citizen

Authors:

Margarita Sanchez-Mazas ,

Groupe de Psychologie Sociale CP124, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Institut de Sociologie, Avenue Jeanne 44, 1050 Bruxelles, BE
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Frédéric Van Humskerken,

Université Humskerken Libre de Bruxelles, BE
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Annalisa Casini

Université Humskerken Libre de Bruxelles, BE
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Abstract

Within the theoretical framework of Social Representations, an exploratory study involving French-speaking Belgian citizens (N = 86) was conducted in order to assess the meaning of being a citizen both in the national and in the European contexts. Participants completed a free association task with the stimuli “Being a Belgian (European) citizen is...” coupled with a standardised questionnaire. The shared meanings associated with the notion of citizenship were identified, as well as the organising principles of this representation. Results showed that at both levels a formal/political definition of citizenship emerged together with a more specific national and European significance. Political positioning towards the functions of the Slate (social vs. penal) and political orientations were found to contribute to structuring both semantic spaces. The relevance of a conceptual distinction between identity and citizenship is discussed in the context of the socio-political transformations brought about by the construction of Europe.

How to Cite: Sanchez-Mazas, M., Van Humskerken, F. and Casini, A., 2003. Towards a Social Representational Approach to Citizenship: Political Positioning in Lay Conceptions of the Belgian and of the European Citizen. Psychologica Belgica, 43(1-2), pp.55–84. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/pb.1002
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Published on 01 Jan 2003.
Peer Reviewed

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