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A multilevel analysis of attitudes toward the EU in Old and New Member States: Effects of class, generation and genderKatarzyna Wilk
This dissertation poses a question about attitudes toward European integration in 23 European Union countries that include Old and New Member States. 1 These countries vary with regard to their pre-accession situation, depth of association with the EU, and duration of membership. Keeping in mind the differences stemming from a country's pre-accession situation and unique transitional experience, or lack of such experience, this research asks whether these factors are sources of variation in citizens' attitudes toward the EU. To address this question, the dissertation, first, offers a general theory of attitudes toward the EU; and second, supplies as well as analyzes the empirical evidence. Chapter 2 shows that both Old and New Member States, when examined separately, reveal a structure of support for integration that is rather similar across various social groups.2 In contrast, when comparing Old and New Member States with each other, the gender gap is more pronounced in the former, while the effect of generation and class is significantly stronger in the latter.3 Next, the two-level analysis demonstrates that a country's current economic and political situation has a rather weak impact on citizens' attitudes toward the EU; this indicates that differences between Old and New Member States in terms of attitudes toward the EU can be attributed to socio-demographic factors—specifically, class, generation and gender—and an individual's transitional experience, rather than broader macroeconomic and political factors. Chapter 3 examines the post-communist countries in isolation, investigating whether two distinct types of multiple post-communist transitions—dual and triple—influence citizens' attitudes toward the EU differently. While the results still confirm the important role of socio-demographic characteristics in determining the degree of support for EU membership, they also show that dual versus triple transitional experience is a significant differentiating factor for those attitudes: a triple transitional experience leads to higher levels of Euro-skepticism than the dual transitional experience. Finally, Chapter 4 is devoted to case studies of two dual-transition countries—Hungary and Poland—offering quantitative evidence that despite significant differences in the political situations of the two countries during the pre-transitional period, their similar dual post-communist transitions led to similar outcomes in terms of support for the EU. However, the mechanism that translates opinions about national politics, national institutions and personal assessment into attitudes toward the EU is different for these two countries. This dissertation ultimately proves that both individual- and country-level determinants account for the variation in citizens' attitudes toward the EU. Since these findings hold true for the EU-23 as a whole, including both transitional and non-transitional societies, the theoretical propositions of this research, as well as any suggested operational measures can serve as a basis for further EU study in the event of future enlargements. 1For the purpose of this analysis, New Member States are understood as post-communist countries that joined the EU in 2004. Malta and Cyprus are excluded from the analysis. 2There is an exception for farmers who are supportive in Old and skeptical in New Member States. 3The gender gap is defined as women being less supportive than men. However, the difference between Old and New Member States with regard to gender effect may not be substantial enough, since the multilevel modeling does not show these differences to be significant.
Social sciences; Attitudes toward the EU; European Union; European integration; Gender; Generation; New Member States; Old Member States; Postcommunist; Postcommunist transition; Political science; Sociology; 0615:Political science; 0626:Sociology
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