Fear, Anger and Identity. The Dynamics of Forced Social Displacement: The Case of the EU

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    • Presentation speakers
      • Dennis Smith, Department of Social Sciences, Loughborough University, UK


    How do people react and cope when they are overwhelmed by events and processes that undermine their place in the socio-political order, their capacity to obtain respect and enjoy recognition, and their sense of identity? This paper offers a model of the dynamics of forced social displacement that helps us to analyze the ways in which humiliation threatens the freedom, security, autonomy and recognition that individuals and groups are used to having, and the ways in which those who have been threatened or overwhelmed by humiliation may respond. These processes interact in a complex way with the formation and transformation of individual and group self-identification and the capacity of individuals and groups to ‘work through’ the dilemmas they confront. During the late 1940s and 1950s (after World War II) the European movement presented itself as the harbinger of a ‘post-humiliation’ polity in Western Europe and after 1989 the EU extended this offer to the ex-communist/state socialist nations. However, the recent Eurozone crisis has seen the widespread return of humiliation within and between European nations. The paper has two closely related objectives. The first is to present a basic model of the dynamics of humiliation processes, including a range of potential responses to attempted humiliation, both ‘yielding’ and ‘challenging’ in character. The second objective is to explore some of the specific patterns of response found in particular national cases such as Ireland, Greece, Spain and Italy.