Steiner's work looks at Europe from the point of view of the cultural identity of its citizens. Whilst most Europeans identify themselves first and foremost by their national identity, Steiner examines the process through which political socialisation establishes cultural references which in turn provide a foundation for a European identity.
Steiner is famous for his five key elements of European cultural identification. These experiences and concepts firmly place European identity as a western culture. His essay takes account of the many everyday experiences which make up a sense of self, from café culture to moving through the European landscape, and the weight of the past which is so impregnated in our daily lives, it passes almost without notice. Steiner looks to the future for a European identity and the lessons of history for the civilisation of today.