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The Modern Grand Tour - How was Interrail made into a tool for European identity building?

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Title: The Modern Grand Tour - How was Interrail made into a tool for European identity building?
Author(s): Journet, Axelle
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences
Degree program: Master's Programme in European and Nordic Studies
Specialisation: Social Sciences
Language: English
Acceptance year: 2022
The goal of this thesis is to better understand the role and the impact of the DiscoverEU initiative. It allows 18 year-old EU citizens to travel and explore Europe for up to a month by giving them a free Interrail pass. The Interrail programme however, was not created by the EU but is being used as a tool by the latter to promote European solidarity, their vision of a European identity and to further a sense of belonging. To conduct this study, I used Instagram to gather the participants’ posts and captions. All the data I gathered was public and the participants remained anonymous throughout my thesis. I proceeded with qualitative content analysis to analyse my data in order to observe what kind of narrative was being created online by the participants. European identity, the significance of travel and the decision to target the younger generations were topics of particular interest throughout this thesis. DiscoverEU aims at providing a shared experience these young people can relate to and bond over so that the EU becomes something concrete in their mind, something they can identify with and support later on in their life as well. This thesis finds that the EU is using DiscoverEU as a tool to promote European identity in numerous ways. The participants are sharing mostly positive experiences but only a few European statements about European identity. However, criticism towards the better off was also raised.
Keyword(s): DiscoverEU Interrail European Union Identity Sense of belonging Qualitative content analysis

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