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The analysis and arguments in this book are based on data gathered from 24 focus groups, 8 conducted in each of Paris, Oxford and Brussels in the period January–June 2006. It was impossible not to begin, during the fieldwork period itself, to analyse the class and national differences that were at the heart of our research design. In Brussels group members showed strikingly high levels of sociability – invariably, they began immediately to converse and to find out about their fellow group members’ identities. They tended to achieve a level of group solidarity with no difficulty – checking that each other was able to get home at the end, and offering lifts. They also exhibited, by any standards, strikingly high levels of knowledge of multi-level politics. Working-class participants engaged in serious discussions of voting systems and appropriate distributions of competence. We didn’t know, and still don’t, how to explain Belgians’ particular competence in discussing European integration. Is it the quality of citizenship education in schools? A public political culture that is more transparent about political structures than the other two? In any case, the effect was evident at the time of the fieldwork and is borne out in our subsequent close analysis of the data.
KeywordsEuropean Union Vote System National Difference Citizenship Education Group Solidarity
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