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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Surviving the Union: Trust and Identity Building in Suprastructures, The Case of Europe - The UE Survival Kit: Trust and Identity Building in Regional Structures

Drawing from interviews and narratives, and evaluating the role of initiatives such as the European Citizens' Initiative, we examine the evolution of the European Union (EU) into an arena of interactions developing trust as the organisational reward. The EU is viewed 'locally' and 'globally', as a multi-agent system comprised of governing institutions, Member States and citizens and in need to remain relevant for its people. We propose that boundary spanning is a key element in the sustainability of the system with trust at its core. This trust operates horizontally and vertically. We propose the Entrepreneuring Self (ES) as a process of changing identity and social identity, in this case towards a collective sense of belonging. This notion of ES is beyond 'enterprise' and about authenticity, with a capacity to maintain a constant expansion-contraction of the focus for identification. It offers individuals 'an identity standpoint' from where to challenge 'fixed' social identities and any associated perceptions of life-worlds. Social identity is hence viewed as a stake, or a refusal to develop a stake, that the individual has in an organization, in this case regional suprastructures such as the EU and the Pacific Alliance. Trust is the mere safeguarding of the stake linked to the future of the organisation. We show that: 1) Curiosity and hope are involved in the energizing of ES and 2) Trust is built within a Winnicott's transitional space, a possibility precipitated through the EU policies and regulations. We draw on psychoanalytic contributions on identification and attachment in order to understand aspects of the trust in ES and to explore: 1) the importance of earlier attachment object and new social identities 2) which emotions and issues result in successful ES 3) how the nature of trust itself is transformed over time as members acquire knowledge about the organization.