From the Stereotypification of the Non-European Other to the Prototypification of the European Self: A Case Study of Turkey’s Membership to the European Union from the French Perspective.

Ariane Bogain
Florence Potot


In an era of increased globalisation, the need for a sense of belonging and an identity is becoming more pressing. The way nations form images of others and, conversely, conscious or unconscious images of themselves is becoming increasingly important as these images impact on public opinion and on political and decision-making discourse. With the development of supranationalism in Europe, the age-old notion of European identity has come more and more to the fore. Conflicting interpretations and a general disinclination to consider the matter leave the notion of European identity as polysemic as ever. Furthermore, the expansion of the EU has contributed to blurring this notion, so much so that in the collective psyche, it has become closely linked to the membership of the European Union and it is proving sometimes difficult to dissociate one from the other. In this context, the debate surrounding Turkey’s membership of the EU gives an insight into prototypical and stereotypical representations of Europe.

As the controversy has been particularly salient in France, the aim of this study is to explore the European self-conceptions and images of the other through the example of France’s opposition to Turkey’s membership of the EU. For this purpose, opinion polls and the Press will be used as forms of narrative in order to highlight these representations and how they have evolved in time. The first part of the study will concentrate on the arguments put forward to justify the opposition to Turkey joining the EU. The second part will then evaluate how the image of the other contributes to the prototypical representation French citizens have of Europe.

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