National Identities in Troubled Times: Germany and Southern European Countries after the Great Recession
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National identityCivic and ethnic identitiesAscribed and achieved identitiesGreat RecessionWelfare stateWelfare nationalismGermanySouthern European countries
Ruiz Jiménez, Antonia María, Nieves Aquino Llinares, and Elena Ferri Fuentevilla. 2021. National Identities in Troubled Times: Germany and Southern European Countries after the Great Recession. Genealogy 5: 40. https://doi.org/ 10.3390/genealogy5020040
This article aims to elucidate the effects of the Great Recession and the retrenchment of welfare on national identity in several European countries. While different authors have observed that good economic performance, redistribution, and the growth of welfare strengthen countries as political communities of solidarity, there is much less empirical evidence regarding the consequences of an economic crisis for national identity. To investigate these consequences, we focus on a set of countries where the 2008 Great Recession resulted in different impacts, namely, Germany and four countries in Southern Europe (Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Greece). We use secondary quantitative data from Eurobarometer surveys to test aggregated and individual hypotheses relating to both the size and direction of the Great Recession’s effects on national identity. Our results suggest that the roles and impacts of economic variables may be different depending on the relative economic performance of a country within its own context. It seems easier to confirm that good economic performance, in relative terms, might strengthen national identity than proving that poor economic performance will weaken national identity. Even if no definitive empirical evidence can be given at this point, our data suggest a rationalization or compensation mechanism such that citizens look for where to anchor their strong national identities after they have decided on them. If an economy is performing well, then it would become a good anchorage for holding a strong national identity; however, if an economy is not performing well, then economic factors will cease to be a fundamental element for national identity holders.