An attitude network analysis of post-national citizenship identities




How are evaluative reactions pertaining post-national citizenship identities interrelated and what are the potential mechanisms how post-national identities evolve? Previous efforts to operationalize and measure post-national citizenship identities leave it open how people’s stances on different issues are related and suffer from a variety of theoretical and methodological shortcomings regarding the nature of political attitudes and ideologies. A recently proposed approach conceptualizes ideologies as networks of causally connected evaluative reactions to individual issues. Individual evaluative reactions form the nodes in a network model, and these nodes can influence each other via linked edges, thereby giving rise to a dynamic thoughts system of networked political and identity-related views. To examine this system at large, we apply network analysis to data from the European Values Study. Specifically, we investigate 33 evaluative reactions regarding national and supra-national identity, diversity, global empathy, global environmentalism, immigration, and supra-national politics. The results reveal a strongly connected network of citizenship identity-related attitudes. A community analysis reveals larger clusters of strongly related evaluative reactions, which are connected via bridges and hub nodes. Centrality analysis identifies evaluative reactions that are strategically positioned in the network, and network simulations indicate that persuasion attempts targeted at such nodes have greater potential to influence the larger citizenship identity than changes of more peripheral attitude nodes. We lastly show that socio-demographic characteristics are not only associated with the overall level of post-national citizenship, but also with the network structure, suggesting that these structural differences can affect the network function as people develop national or post-national citizenship identities, or respond to external events. These results provide new insights into the structure of post-national identities and the mechanism how post-national identities might evolve. We end with a discussion of future opportunities to study networked attitudes in the context of civic and citizenship education.

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