Representations of the European Union in German and UK secondary school textbooks - a comparative analysis
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The current thesis observes secondary school textbooks from the UK and Germany from a comparative perspective and evaluates how the European Union is represented in them. For doing so, a methodology of qualitative content analysis along with a sociosemiotic analysis of the visual materials is conducted. The UK and Germany have been chosen as countries for the analysis since they take very different approaches towards EU integration, Germany strongly supporting EU integration, and the UK being apprehensive towards enhanced integration. Along with their significant political influence in EU decision-making Germany can be seen as a driver and the UK as a critic of EU integration. Based on the theoretically supported assumption that textbooks have a political dimension and are subject to political control and influence, it aims to understand if and how the narratives, presented in the textbooks, reflect government positions towards the EU in both countries. The analysis reveals a quite low standing of EU teaching, especially in the UK textbooks. These mainly emphasize the institutional structure and economic aspects of the union. Furthermore, the risk of losing too much sovereignty is regularly mentioned which goes along with the British approach of “cooperating” with the European states rather than “integrating”. The UK’s relationship with the EU, which is represented, can be described as ambiguous. German textbooks, on the other hand, mainly emphasize institutional aspects and the Monetary Union. The EU is usually represented as an unfinished process with an undefined end, e.g. the enlargement discussion takes an important position in the German textbooks. This goes along with the German government's active engagement in integration processes. Furthermore, the EU is presented as something incontestable. The solution for problems is generally seen in ever further political integration. Altogether, the discourse by political élites and governments is quite strongly present in the observed textbooks. However, perspectives of other political actors may also be presented.