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Towards a new European narrative

The debate on European Integration has been dominated by a technical wording during the economic and financial crisis in the last 10 years. Currently we are facing a shift in language on European “cooperation” towards a more emotional, but negative framing. A discourse on security has evoked during the so called refugee crisis, which is instrumentalized by political leaders as a practical answer to growing populism. Ulrike Guérots concept of a European Republic intends to switch the debate to a positive and progressive viewpoint on European Integration, by introducing a political utopia on a European Republic which aims to combat the democratic deficit in the European Union. We are trying to capture this shift in framing by examining attitudes towards a prospective European Republic by a semantic differential, which has been developed in an interdisciplinary manner by social scientists (Danube University Krems) and linguists (University of Münster). This instrument of measurement has been developed by Osgood et. al. in 1957 with the aim to capture especially emotional connotations of an attitude object. In our contribution we tracing back these intentions of the initial founders by asking for cross cultural equivalence of emotions towards a prospective European Republic. We have developed an online questionnaire which has been translated into 18 languages and spread all over Europe’s civil society. Our results point to some comparative dimensions of evaluation of the concept of a European Republic, but also to some country-specific, historical differences. Furthermore, we discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using metaphors in a semantic differential and asking for appropriate areas of application in social sciences today.

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