The browser you are using is not supported by this website. All versions of Internet Explorer are no longer supported, either by us or Microsoft (read more here:

Please use a modern browser to fully experience our website, such as the newest versions of Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari etc.

Ian Manners, photo.

Ian Manners


Ian Manners, photo.

The ‘Difference Engine’ : Constructing and Representing the International Identity of the European Union


  • Ian Manners

Summary, in English

The purpose of this paper is to more fully develop the notion of the international identity of the EU previously suggested by Richard Whitman and myself. I will attempt to balance our previous focus on the ‘active dimension’ of the EU’s attempts to ‘assert its identity on the international scene’ by looking at the ‘reflexive dimension’ of the EU’s international identity from a more sociological perspective. This paper will argue that the distinctive polity perspectives and role representations of the EU can be thought of as a form of ‘difference engine’ which drives the construction and representation of the EU’s international identity. Like Babbage’s original difference engine, the EU’s international identity is not a multiplier of difference, exaggerating the dissimilarities between the EU and the rest of the world through the generation of a new European supranational identity, but functions solely on the basis of addition - by adding an EU element to Europeans’ complex and multifaceted identities.

Publishing year






Document type

Working paper


Copenhagen Peace Research Institute (COPRI)


  • Political Science


  • International Identity
  • European Union
  • Difference Engine