Living Beyond the Nation

European Transnational Social Fields and Identifications

by Tea Golob (Author)
©2016 Monographs 94 Pages


The book provides key insights in experiencing lives and attitudes of the increasing number of people who reside beyond national boundaries and strategically create their life-paths. It is a brief but comprehensive introduction to the latest theoretical developments combining issues of reflexivity and habitus resulting in unique empirical and practical implications. Intended for the readers who are looking for a combination of scholarly insights and everyday life stories of the people living beyond the national constraints, no matter whether they are interested in contemporary social trends and their impact to individuals, ethnographic research, globalization trends or the future visions of the European Union.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Acknowledgment
  • Table of Contents
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Contemporary social order and identifications
  • 3. Transnational social fields
  • 4. European social fields
  • 4.1 Towards the insights from the field
  • 5. European bureaucratic social fields
  • 5.1 Fieldwork and analysis of ethnographic material
  • 5.2 Putting flesh on the bones
  • 5.2.1 Predispositions influencing the entrance to the transnational social sphere
  • 5.2.2 Transnational social forces
  • 5.2.3 National social forces
  • 5.2.4 Intersubjective meaning
  • 5.2.5 Instrumentality and strategic action
  • 6. Conclusion
  • 7. List of references
  • 8. Index

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1. Introduction

The common thread of this book reflects interests in the processes of identification linked to transnational social spheres. It elucidates the fact that transnational layers of identification are instrumental and result from strategic deliberations. The ability to add a transnational component to other layers of identity signifies reflexive individuals who are more capable to recognise enablements and constraints of an ever more complex and differentiated society than those wedded solely to national social context. Social spheres, be they national or transnational, are perceived as social environments in a broader sense, not limited to physical spaces or communities, but pertaining to socially constructed or imagined spaces. With increasing complexity of the social systems, individuals have begun to enter a variety of social environments and were confronted with the multiple meanings of social order. Semantics offered by social environment trigger individuals to actively respond to a social context. However, we do not just intend to discuss contemporary transnational identifications in general, but to put flesh on the bones as well. we further deploy the theoretical assumptions in regard to possibilities for empirical implications, which call for the consideration of social fields, particularly the European ones. The book draws its insights from the in-depth interviews with civil servants working in different departments and services of the European Commission, who are participating in the transnational social field of the Eurocracy. Their identifications reflect a complex geometry of definition of a self within a variety of social, political and cultural contexts. The main goal is not just to illustrate different layers of identities ranging from local and national to European ones, but to represent that these identifications are indeed instrumental and strategic. We reveal that interlocutors are capable of revaluating their position inside the social structure and of orienting their actions towards better life opportunities. They are able to cross national boundaries and to strategically create new lives in transnational social spheres. They cannot escape social constraints though their deliberate and strategic actions turn constraints into enablements offered by the social environment.

The introductory chapter is therefore the venture point to a brief, yet comprehensive, presentation of theoretical framework and its potential for empirical implications regarding contemporary identification processes, which are torn between local, national, transnational or even supranational social spheres. The theoretical basis for exploring the overlapping referential frames of structural semantics substantiating recognition of selves and others is set in the context of transnational ← 9 | 10 → social fields. They enable exploration of identifications that emerge as a result of individual experiences within different national communities or groups, institutional rules and transnational connections.

In order to dig into a complex interlacing of intimate evaluations and social determinants underpinning the comprehensive process of defining a self, two concepts are deployed: reflexivity and habitus. A simultaneous consideration of both conceptual notions within a context of individual or collective biography broke academic ground more than a decade ago, in an attempt to incorporate Bourdieu’s ideas into a contemporary, individualised and unstable social reality (cf. Adams 2006; Mouzelis 2007). Due to various ontological dilemmas that see the human subject or consciousness on different levels, emphasising epistemic relativity of phenomenological perspectives, as does Husserl’s philosophy, or as a real substance, as does Bhaskar’s critical realism, the combination of both concepts has become quite a burning issue (Archer 2010; Caetano 2014; Akram and Hogan 2015). In this book, we incorporate both concepts into an analytical framework of contemporary identifications as a useful theoretical and empirical tool. We don’t attempt to hybridize both concepts (cf. Adams 2006), but to show what changes the transformations of the social order have brought, which demand intensified consideration of reflexive deliberations. At the same time, this should not be perceived as “imperative of modernity” (Archer 2012). Although individuals are not confronted with the static social structures typical for pre-modern conditions, they do depend significantly on a structural context, which can trigger or obstruct reflexive deliberations.


ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2016 (June)
Habitus narartives social embeddednes European identifications qualitative methodology
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2016. 94 pp., 2 b/w fig., 1 table

Biographical notes

Tea Golob (Author)

Tea Golob is an Assistant Professor and Research Fellow at SASS, Slovenia. Her research interests are linked to transnational practices, narratives and identifications in the European and global context.


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96 pages