Have European citizens become increasingly Eurosceptic over the last two decades, turning their backs on European integration? Though many journalists, politicians and academics argue that they have, this book suggests that reactions to European integration cannot be reduced uniquely to a rise in Euroscepticism, but that indifference and ambivalence need also to be brought into the picture when studying EU legitimacy and its politicisation.
Drawing on new evidence from survey data from eight founding member states, and focus groups conducted in francophone Belgium, France and Great Britain, Integrating Indifference explores the various faces of citizens’ indifference, from fatalism, to detachment, via sheer indecision.
This book adopts a pioneering mixed-methods approach to analysing the middle-of-the-road attitudes of ordinary citizens who consider themselves neither Europhiles nor Eurosceptics. Complementing existing quantitative and qualitative literature in the field, it opens up new perspectives on attitudes towards European integration.
'This is a book that should be read by everyone concerned about how Europe's citizens are responding to what EU institutions are doing in response to the eurozone crisis. The author shows the theoretical and empirical importance of the large bloc of indifferent and uncertain citizens who are neither committed to further integration, nor eurosceptic. Anyone concerned with methodology will be interested in the book's demonstration, through careful analysis of trend quantitative data and qualitative group discussion, of how public opinion can be misread by jumping to conclusions from precoded data.'
Richard Rose, Professor of Politics, University of Strathclyde, and Visiting Professor, European University Institute, Florence
'In the midst of growing pessimism, Integrating Indifference invites us to re-calibrate our interpretation of trends in popular support of European integration. Through a masterful combination of survey and qualitative data analysis, Van Ingelgom demonstrates that growing confusion and political alienation more than rampant Euroscepticism reigns among the European Union's citizens. Instead of jumping off the boat, what policy-makers, scholars and pundits who favour integration should thus be doing is explaining to disoriented citizens why past institutional reforms were needed and why Europe needs more, not less, integration.'
Juan Diez Medrano, Rafael del Pino Professor, Department of Economic History and Institutions, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid
'This excellent and provocative book sheds a new light on the issue of European integration – now more topical than ever. The careful reexamination of Eurobarometer trends over 40 years, and the content analysis of 24 focus groups from three countries, go against the dominant frames of interpretation in terms of rising euroscepticism and democratic deficit… One-third of citizens have neither a good nor a bad image of the EU; it’s simply outside the world they live in. In the long run, this indifference could prove even more damaging than open dissent.'
Nonna Mayer, president of the French Political Science Association