European values and social identities

This keynote session at the EVS event “Past, present and future of the study of European values” in Bergamo (29.09.2022) addresses relevant issues in current Europe societies, such as cultural integration and national and European identity.

Dr. Plamen Aklyski is a YUFE postdoctoral researcher at University Carlos III of Madrid, working on a project on European values and identity. Before that, he spent two years as a postdoctoral researcher at Keio University in Tokyo (JSPS fellow), conducting comparative research on Asian and European values. He received a PhD in sociology from the University Oslo in Norway, and a Master’s degree from Free University Berlin, Germany. He is also a former research fellow of the WZB Social Science Center in Berlin.

He will addresses cultural integration in Europe with his talk A community of shared values? Dimensions and dynamics of cultural integration in the European Union

Abstract: The series of recent crises (EURO, refugees, backsliding, Brexit) challenge the self-portrayal of the European Union (EU) as a community of shared values. Against this backdrop, we analyse European Values Study data from 1990 till 2020 to assess the level and change in publics’ acceptance of the EU’s officially propagated values: personal freedom, individual autonomy, social solidarity, ethnic tolerance, civic honesty, gender equality and liberal democracy. We find that EU publics support these values strongly and increasingly over time. The EU-member publics are also remarkably distinct culturally from Eastern European non-EU-nations, especially concerning individual freedoms and gender equality. Simultaneously, however, member nations internalize EU-values at different speeds – alongside traditional religious fault lines that continue to differentiate Europe – in the following order from fastest to slowest: (1) Protestant, (2) Catholic, (3) Ex-communist and (4) Orthodox countries. In conclusion, the EU writ large evolves into a distinct value-sharing community at different speeds.

Dr. Simona Guglielmi, PhD in Sociology, is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Political and Social Sciences of the University of Study of Milan. She has been participating in spsTREND research activities since 2018. She is a local representative of the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP- Italy). She was a member of the Italian team of the European Social Survey (rounds 8 and 9). She is a faculty member of the PhD program in Sociology and Methodology of Social Research (University of Turin and Milan). Her main research interests lie in national and European identities, public opinion and value change, and political culture. She has strong expertise in the collection and management of survey data. Methodological and technical skills include comparative studies, survey experiments, and structural equation modelling.

She will focus on the link between national identity and immigrant discrimination in Italy with her talk Co-nationals, first! How national and European identities matter in native favouritism


All over Europe, the idea is increasingly taking hold that diversity, in particular if associated with international migration, is problematic or undesirable. This debate is intertwined with that of the failure of multiculturalism in liberal democratic societies and the emergence of a “new” nationalism largely driven by immigration. In Italy too, the political climate has been crisscrossed by nativist claims. “Italians first!” has been the main leitmotif of several right-wing parties: League, Brothers of Italy with Giorgia Meloni, CasaPound Italy and Italy to the Italians. The growing empirical literature on the topic confirms that the immigration issue has become more and more salient for a large majority of Italian voters. Paradoxically, this has occurred without any increase in anti-immigrant sentiments over the last thirty years in Italy, as accurate analysis of EVS data confirms.

Furthermore, political rhetoric apart, as yet little is known about how national identity and symbolic national boundaries promote or hinder public support for immigrant discrimination in Italy. This is the question addressed in this contribution, through a theoretical reflection and evidence based on data from EVS-Italy. The National Identity Threat Trust model (NITT) is theorized and tested for a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying the link between the normative and affective dimensions of national identity, perceived threats (realistic and symbolic), and outgroup trust‐related emotions as predictors of support for migrant employment policy based on the nativist argument.