Historical Social Research

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Florence Delmotte, Heidi Mercenier & Virginie Van Ingelgom: Belonging and Indifference to Europe. A Study of Young People in Brussels. [Abstract]

This paper proposes to contribute to testing the hypothesis of a “drag effect of the habitus” and investigating empirically the significations of the “I/we/they” categories. It is based on “focus groups” organised with 35 young people in Brussels who were interviewed about their relations to the politics at different levels. It aims more generally at gaining a better understanding of how the feelings of belonging work, by focusing on the supposed lack of them and indifference regarding Europe today. The article firstly sums up what the “habitus drag effect” consists of, according to a certain reading of Elias’s work. This section also aims at stressing how this idea from Elias although formulated in the 1980s is still stimulating to consider the EU and legitimacy issues 30 years later. The next section briefly reviews the recent evolutions in EU studies, the major advances and the remaining blind spots. The last and most important part is an attempt to illustrate how empirical material contributes to investigating these blind spots. At the end, the discussions with the young “Brusselers” partially validate, on the one hand, partially refute, on the other hand, and in any case enrich some of the propositions formulated by Elias’s historical sociology, particularly around the “we/they” relationships.

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