Is Europe becoming amorphous?

Sep 16th, 2003, 02:08 PM
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Is Europe becoming amorphous?

After 4 years lurking about this place, and possible more noticeable just now, because I have two weeks worth to catch up, I seem to discern from my transatalantic cousins an amorphousing of Europe.

Are more of y'all thinking of the Continent as a single place rather than distinct countries, more than you used to, or am I exaggerating the trend?
sheila is offline  
Sep 16th, 2003, 02:34 PM
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Same currency used practically everywhere, border stops almost non-existant . . . kinda like where I live.

Goofy isn't it, the notion that all Continental Europeans are alike just as all Americans are alike . . . primarily because of the effects of commerce?

So will the Continent have a constitutional monarchy, a beneficient dictator, an elected president?

The Euro, the Great Homogenizer.
Snoopy is offline  
Sep 17th, 2003, 02:54 AM
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With different languages and some very, very different outlooks on life, Europe isn't nearly as amorphous or homogenous as is the USA and probably never will be. But that's one thing that makes it so interesting to visit.
Sep 17th, 2003, 03:04 AM
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There are tourists who seem to want to hire a car to drive from one multinational chain hotel to another and from one McDonalds to another, so for these people there will be little difference between one country and another. If you really get to know European countries, you'll find there is great variety even within each country. Spain has several languages, while there are big differences between the regions of Italy (it became a single country less than 150 years ago).
GeoffHamer is offline  
Sep 17th, 2003, 03:07 AM
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The only amorphousing (What a word! First time I heard it) is, to some extent, economical and political. With dozens of languages and distinct, very alive national cultures Europe is just as varied as before.
elina is offline  
Sep 17th, 2003, 03:36 AM
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Hi Sheila,

It's not that the countries have blended together but that Europe has blended more into the USA. Many products that used to be available only in Europe are now readily available here. Travel is more accessible because of the internet, low airfares, and forums like fodors, thus allowing people to venture forth and exchange ideas more than they used to. More Europeans are speaking English, making independent travel easier. The steps that European countries have taken to unite each other and make trade easier have also make tourism easier.

I think all this makes Europe less exotic (in the sense of unattainable) but I think of Europe as distinct countries. In my mind I may group countries together, i.e., Lowlands, Balkans, but that's how I learned to identify them in school and it's stuck with me.

The dynamic on this board has changed dramatically over the last four years. Today, there are proportionately more people who are approaching their first (or perhaps second) trip to Europe and are looking for advice. Four years ago the instance of people who had widely traveled to Europe was higher and the discussions were more based on particular countries. Now we have a wide range of participants and a wide range of subjects.

In thinking about your question I scrolled through the first three or four groups of postings and see that most of them are specific not only to one country but to one area or town. As an American traveler I have two different views. One is of Europe as a group of independent countries. The other view is that of a tourist in which I see Europe as a more accessible and easier-to-travel-to place. The later view may appear to translate into homogeniality but I revel in the uniqueness of each European country.


adrienne is offline  
Sep 17th, 2003, 08:48 AM
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I guess I was really thinking about the attitudes of you guys, rather than the actuality.....
sheila is offline  
Sep 17th, 2003, 09:14 AM
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Hi Sheila,

I did give you my attitude in my long post but here it is more succinctly...

Europe hasn't morphed.

adrienne is offline  
Sep 17th, 2003, 09:24 AM
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I'd say you're exaggerating. And it depends what comparison you're making anyway..
Superficially, Europeans - well, to be precise the Europeans in the EU/Switz/Norway - look to getting more homogenous.

But it never feels that way at football matches.
For all that Americans (and some Europeans) think everyone watches American TV programmes - they don't. Having a gazillion channels means you can see American TV programmes: but whereas 20 years ago Dynasty or Dallas was in every country's top 10 programmes, now the only foreign programmes in any country's top 20 are non-US soaps: Australian in the UK; Latin American in Portugal/Spain.

Media dumbing down varies: in the 60's, it was hard to tell the difference between "Today" on the Home Service and the similar news/gossip shows on France Inter or RAI 1. Now, they're as different as chalk and cheese.

Record charts now contain more local artistes than 20 years ago, when pop music was all British or American, and only your mum listened to local singers. And Mali influences French pop in a completely different way from how West Indian music and Bangra influences British.

Immigration affects European countries differently: there's a huge difference between the highly integrated Indians in the UK and the totally marginalised African prostitutes on so many Italian highways. So attiudes of the "host" population differ widely.

We've changed what "Europe" means in the past 20 years, so it now includes countries which don't have W Europe's shared history and attitudes. Try talking to a Romanian about the past 50 years: their perception of everything is different from the common attitudes of the Italians, Germans and Swedes.

Europe may look more homogenised. But, personally, I feel far more in a strange land when in other European countries than I ever have before. and that's not just British exceptionalism: the more you scratch Europe (which is inevitable with age), the more different it gets.
flanneruk is offline  
Sep 17th, 2003, 09:25 AM
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Really? More amorphous than your post? Impossible!!
Tere is offline  
Sep 17th, 2003, 09:28 AM
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From the Peloponnesian Wars to the European Union, the continent has repeatedly fragmented and united. Waves of religious reforms and counter reforms have added their effects. Same for ideological movements.

Today, Europe seems to be simultaneously uniting and fragmenting. The European Union is focused on harmonization, but the UK and much of eastern Europe seem to want to go in their own direction.
smueller is offline  
Sep 17th, 2003, 09:30 AM
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Sheila, since when is "y'all" used in Scotland ??

I have nothing to say on this subject except that it is a fascinating discussion.
We often remark on the abundance of Gap, Banana Republic, etc stores in France and elsewhere. The Malling of the world is sad, I want to go to another country and not be able to get what I can get at home!
Here in the US..there is a lot of distinction being lost, languages, customs, so many coming in, the old are being lost. That could be a good thing, or maybe not.
As a 'foreigner', I still hated to see the Franc and others being lost to the homogenous Euro..and I was happy there were still pounds in England. But, of course, that is as a tourist

Scarlett is offline  
Sep 17th, 2003, 09:35 AM
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Maybe a minor point, but back 10 years ago when people asked where I was going that summer I'd say, "Europe". Now if they ask, I say "London, then Germany and Switzerland". So I guess I tend to think of the individual countries more than I used to. Maybe that's because I used to simply think of going to Europe -- that rather exotic travel destination. Now I plan and think ahead according to the sights and customs of individual countries and plan my trips around those -- not just going to Europe for the sake of going to Europe.
Patrick is offline  
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