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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter January 26, 2009

Sources of Euroscepticism: Utilitarian Interest, Social Distrust, National Identity and Institutional Distrust

Koen Abts, Dirk Heerwegh and Marc Swyngedouw
From the journal World Political Science

This article attempts to analyse and improve the individual-level approaches to the study of public Euroscepticism in Belgium. In recent literature, three approaches focusing on instrumental, cultural and political cues can be distinguished. First, the utilitarian approach associates Euroscepticism with economic interests. Second, the cultural approach draws on cultural attitudes and affective identities. Third, the political approach associates support for European integration with political efficacy and institutional trust. Drawing upon Belgian data from the IntUne Project 2007, some interesting conclusions about the sources of Euroscepticism can be derived. The results show that negative evaluations of the egocentric benefits of European membership, social distrust in European fellow citizens and institutional distrust in the EU are the most important determinants of Euroscepticism, while education, national attachment, exclusive identity, actor-oriented distrust, and political inefficacy have a smaller, but significant impact. The popular theses of the objective losers and subjective losers of Europeanization are largely rejected. Only low educated people are more sceptical about Europe, whereas workers have a more positive attitude towards Europe.

Published Online: 2009-1-26

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