Cross-border friendships and collective European identity: A longitudinal study

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Series Details Volume 20, Number 4, Pages 649-669
Publication Date December 2019
ISSN 1465-1165 (print) | 1741-2757 (online)
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Cross-border mobility has long been seen as a mechanism to promote a collective political identity; however, the results of empirical studies on young people have been inconsistent. The present work extends previous research on the effect of cross-border mobility by considering the effect of cross-border friendships drawing on the intergroup contact theory of Allport as well as the common ingroup identity model of Gaertner and Dovidio. This longitudinal study examines the role of cross-border friendships in the development of a sense of transnational political community that transcends national boundaries, i.e. the European Union.

The results rely on a two-wave sample of 1294 Italian adolescents and young adults. Cross-border friendships significantly predicted identification as European, attitudes toward the European Union, political beliefs about the European Union, trust in the European Union, (negatively) political alienation, and political participation at the European level and intention to vote at the next European Parliament elections, even after including baseline levels of outcomes as well as relevant socio-demographic factors (i.e. gender, age, majority/minority status, educational qualification, parents’ education level, family income, and socioeconomic status) in the model.

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