The Question about European Identity in Latvia

Hausarbeit, 2016

19 Seiten, Note: 1,3


Table of Content
1. Introduction
2. The Concept of Identity
2.1 Individual Identity
2.1.1 Social Identity
2.1.2 Personal Identity
2.2 Collective Identity
2.3 Political Identity
3. The Concept of European Identity
3.1 The Declaration on European Identity from 1973
3.2 The Six Pillars of Identity Policy of the EU
3.3 European Identity in the Discourse of a European Public
4. Identity Building in Latvia
4.1 Latvian Identity until Latvia`s Independence in 1991
4.2 Processes of Identity Building in Latvia after 1991
5. Conclusion
List of References

List of Figures
Fig. 1: The Latvian national flag
Fig. 2: Standard Eurobarometer 84 (EB84) survey:
Feeling like a citizen of the European Union: national results

1. Introduction
This paper was written for the Interdisciplinary Complementary Studies
("Interdisziplinäres Ergänzungsstudium") in the master program of European Media
Studies at University of Potsdam in summer semester 201
6 in the seminar of
European Identities at Technical University of Applied Sciences Wildau. In the
seminar, we have critically discussed definitions of Europe and European history as
well as the question, whether or not there is such a thing as European identity
and if so, what this definition of identity implies. The concept of European identity
as such is relatively young, officially, it has only been incorporated in the political
agenda of the European Union (EU) in 1973. The term is also ideologically shaped,
based on collective convictions suggesting a sense of community and feeling of
togetherness. At this point, the question is whether it is even possible for a consistent,
coherent identity to develop among the citizens of the 27 member states of the EU,
which are in part culturally very different from one another, and on which criteria
this identity could be based on. In this context, I am particularly interested in the
(European) identity formation in Latvia, because of two reasons: Firstly, my grandparents
originate from this country, so the analysis of the Latvian identity contributes to
my personal identity research. Secondly, I find Latvia a specially interesting object of
investigation regarding the existence of a "nationwide" European identity in
question, as its national history has been shaped by German and Russian occupation
resulting in multiethnic population groups within the country. The aim of this
paper is thus to answer the question, of which cultural and political criteria the
concept of European Identity within the member states of the EU is made of. By
examining events of historical relevance, I am going to investigate how national
identity within Latvia has evolved and how this identity is linked to the idea of a
European identity. Finally, I am going to answer the question in what sense there is
an understanding of and identification with the concept of European identity in
Latvia today. For this purpose, I will start with creating a theoretical basis for this
paper by first examining the concept of identity from a cultural and sociological
point of view. Then, I will discuss the term of European identity by putting it into
a political as well as societal context. In addition, I will describe how national
identity in Latvia has manifested itself in the course of time, both before and

after Latvia`s final independence in 1991. By using the results previously found, I will
establish a relationship between national and European identity in Latvia to finally
answer the question to which extent there is an identification with the concept of
European identity within Latvia`s population today. Lastly, this paper will be completed
with a summarizing conclusion.
2. The Concept of Identity
In order to get an understanding of the term European identity, I will take a look at the
term "identity" itself. As this term has been widely discussed in social and cultural
studies, I will concentrate on individual, collective and political identity as additional
explanations would go too far for this paper.
2.1 Individual Identity
To find out what is meant with individual identity, I will use the theory of Canadian
sociologist Ervin Goffman (born 11 June 182, died 19 November 1982), who divides
individual identity into two parts: social and personal identity.
2.1.1 Social Identity
According to Goffman, the individual finds itself in a continuous correlation between
adaptation to its environment and individual modification. As a result, identity is
composed of a social and a personal component. Social identity means the attributes,
that are ascribed to the individual in a certain situation and that the individual has to
correspond to. The attributes, that are assigned to and characterizing the other person do
not match so much the actual traits of a person but rather our expectations, that we have
of that person by underlying familiar norms and values:
"When a stranger comes into our presence, then, first appearances are likely to enable
us to anticipate his category and attributes, his social identity [...]."
Goffman, E. (1963). Stigma: Notes on the management of spoiled identity. Englewood Cliffs, N.J:
Prentice-Hall, p. 2.

The individual has to live up to several social identities and at the same time protect
itself from societal expectations in order to distance itself from others and preserve its
uniqueness. Thus, apart from a social identity it also needs a personal identity.
2.1.2 Personal Identity
Personal identity refers to the uniqueness of an individual and thus implies the
assumption that a person can be differentiated from all others. The "means of
differentiation" documenting, separately and in combination with each other, the
uniqueness of the individual are called "positive marks" or "identity pegs" and include
for example photographic image, specific family relationships and physical appearance:
"Personal identity, then, has to do with the assumption that the individual can be
differentiated from all others and that around this means of differentiation a single
continuous record of social facts can be attached, entangled, like candy floss, becoming
then the sticky substance to which still other biographical facts can be attached."
Personal identity, too, is a social construct, because it is about the socially ascribed
uniqueness of the individual.
The balance between social and personal identity is called ego identity. Ego identity is a
subjective as well as reflexive structure of the self, which gives the individual its self-
awareness (as such) by enabling it to subjectively perceive its own situation.
Goffman 1963, p. 57.
Goffman 1963, p. 106.
Ende der Leseprobe aus 19 Seiten


The Question about European Identity in Latvia
Technische Hochschule Wildau, ehem. Technische Fachhochschule Wildau
European Identities
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Buch)
540 KB
europe, european identity, EU, european union, latvia, history, europäische Identität, Europa, european politics, europäische Politik, nationale Identität, national identity, Lettland
Arbeit zitieren
Master of Arts Zinaida Ebden (Autor:in), 2016, The Question about European Identity in Latvia, München, GRIN Verlag,


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