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Europe's Youth or Young Europeans

Europeanisation: a Good Subject for French Sociology

Jean-Charles Lagrée is a youth affairs expert for the European Union and the Council of Europe, a researcher at the CNRS and IRESCO1,and coordinator of the research net “Youth and Generations in Europe” organised by the European Sociology Association. In his opinion, French sociology must acquire international experience, and the best starting place would be the question of Europeanisation.

Why are you heavily involved in European institutions?
Jean-Charles Lagrée: French sociologists need to adopt a more European stance. Today, our theories and reference systems despite their quality are little known. Even more importantly than participating in European networks, we ought to be coordinating them in order to create a hearing for our concepts. Behind the problem of language differences lies that of the continued existence of French sociology in the context of European sociology. Taking the example of citizenship, the prevailing approach is an Anglo-Saxon one and yet, in my role as expert, I have been able to uphold a French approach. We need to demonstrate our own way of working, for if we don't take a position, others will occupy the field.

On the question of youth, what is the current state of European research?
J.-C. L. Europeanisation is the conspicuously missing topic. Numerous studies exist comparing countries, regions, etc, with varying degrees of pertinence, but they do not touch even the process of European integration, from a sociological point of view. Overall, Europe does not seem to hold much interest for European sociologists. This can likely be attributed to the fact that European identity is in process. According to my research, it does not exist but is being built.

How do the youth of Europe look at Europe integration?
J.-C. L. They are for the European project, but as a future reality. Their expectations, however, are more pragmatic. Grand ideas of a fraternal Europe do not inspire them. What interests them is comfort, security, a good job, a raise, freedom to travel, and so forth. Their hopes are for a social Europe as opposed to a neo-liberal one.


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Summary

à lire

Young people and Europe. Attitudes towards Europe and European identity – DG XXII (n° 1999, oct. 2001).
Rolling Youth, Rocking Society (Unesco, 2002).
Youth and Globalisation (Injep, 2002).

Contact

Jean-Charles Lagrée
CNRS/IRESCO-ULISS
E-mail: lagree@ext.jussieu.fr

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