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European Integration, Equality Rights and People's Beliefs: Evidence from Germany

News from May 09, 2011

Gerhards, Jürgen & Holger Lengfeld. 2011. "European Integration, Equality Rights and People's Beliefs: Evidence from Germany" European Sociological Review.


Abstract: At the outset, this article describes in detail how the European Union has replaced the nation-state concept of equality with a transnational idea of equality for all European citizens. It then investigates the extent to which German respondents support the idea of non-discrimination between German nationals and other Europeans. The existing literature argues that the process of opening up the borders of the nation-states will challenge the traditional symbolic code of equality held by citizens, and impact negatively on the existing distribution of resources. In particular, those people who lack economic resources and hold more traditional or right wing political orientations are likely to oppose the notion of Europe-wide equality. However, the empirical results show that the majority of the German population supports the idea that citizens from other European countries should enjoy the same rights as nationals. Most of this paper’s hypotheses are either falsified or correlations are rather weak, and these findings bring us to the conclusion that, at least as far as the German population is concerned, there is no evidence for a strong socio-structural or value-orientated cleavage with regard to equal rights for all Europeans.

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