Jordan, Paul Thomas
The Eurovision Song Contest: nation branding and nation building in Estonia and Ukraine.
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
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Studies focussing on Europeanisation and in particular on the return to Europe of postcommunist states have come to the fore in political science research since the collapse of
communism in Eastern Europe. The way in which many states of the former Eastern Bloc have engaged with European geopolitical power structures such as the European Union and
Council of Europe has been well-documented. Europe is a contested construct and its boundaries are still subject to redefinition.
This study examines issues of Europeanisation, national identity and nation branding through the lens of popular culture. In particular the role that events such as the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) play in illuminating the more
salient issues of European identity politics has until recently been an area which has lacked scholarly attention. Although the volume of literature on the event is steadily increasing, there has to date, been no in-depth study conducted on a Former Soviet Republic. This study aims to fill this gap.
This thesis comprises a case study of the role of the Eurovision Song Contest in Estonia and Ukraine. The empirical findings highlight the contested nature of the construction of national identities in the post-Soviet region and in particular, this study has drawn out some of the more salient aspects of identity politics. By exploring these issues through the prism of the Eurovision Song Contest, I argue that the event is significant in terms of
nation branding and image building, particularly in the context of the return to Europe of post-communist countries. The Eurovision Song Contest is often an event which is dismissed as musically and culturally inferior. However, this study shows that different nation states attribute different meanings to the ESC and as such there is a need to go beyond the dominant (western) view of the contest in order to explore the diversity of issues that this event illuminates in wider socio-political debates in Europe today.
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