Visions of Europe at the Eastern and Western Borders of the European Union: A Comparison between Romanian and Portuguese Students

By Oana Mihaela Stoleriu, Octavian Groza, Eduarda Marques da Costa and Ana Rita Pedro.

Published by The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Global Studies

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In the context of an increasing interest for the concept of Europe and for the appropriateness of its evolving borders, this paper analyzes the perception of European territory from the perspective of undergraduate students from two opposite peripheries of Europe: East and West. The data was provided by a large survey applied in 2009 in Romania and Portugal on 919 students from five cities (Bucharest, Iasi, Lisbon, Coimbra and Évora) and six domains of study: geography, political and economic sciences, health, engineering’ and arts. Similar geographical and political coordinates (peripherality within continental Europe, European Union (EU) membership, public discourses about Europe) were expected to create similar levels of importance associated to Europe in the students’ general perception of the world, as well as frequent associations between Europe and the European Union. At the same time, different national contexts and different experiences of the EU membership were expected to generate specific visions regarding the composition and extension of Europe. Therefore, mental maps proved to be a useful method to show the students’ perceptions of the European territory and borders, while the vocabulary associated with Europe helped to understand and validate their spatial representations. The cross-analysis with other socio-demographic variables underlined the role of education, local context and media discourses in shaping and differentiating the students’ representations of Europe.

Keywords: Borders, Europe, Mental Maps, Spatial Representations

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Global Studies, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp.19-39. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.173MB).

Dr. Oana Mihaela Stoleriu

lecturer, Department of Geography, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iasi, IASI, ROMANIA, Romania

I have a PhD in urban geography. I‘ve worked as a PhD student and researcher in the field of geography and social sciences since 2002. Since 2007, I have taught tourism, services geography and spatial development policies at the University “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” of Iasi, Romania. I’ve been involved in several international research projects such as ESPON, FP7 or Corinne Land Cover, as researcher or coordinator. Within these projects as well as in my teaching activities, I try to combine diverse qualitative and quantitative methods and interdisciplinary information. Since 2007, I’ve tried to focus my work on spatial planning and tourism policy.

Prof Octavian Groza

Department of Geography, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iasi, IASI, Romania

Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iasi, Romania

Prof Eduarda Marques da Costa

professor, CEG-UL, Portugal Alameda da Universidade, LISBON, Portugal

Portugal Alameda da Universidade, Portugal

Dr Ana Rita Pedro

CEG UL, Portugal Alameda da Universidade, LISBON, Portugal