The Transnationalization of Public Spheres in Europe: Citizens' (re)actions


  • Schulz-Forberg, Hagen (Projektdeltager)
  • Weßler, Hartmut, Mannheim University, Tyskland (Projektdeltager)
  • Brüggemann, Michael , University of Zurich, Schweiz (Projektdeltager)
  • Kleinen-von Königslöw, Katharina , University of Vienna, Østrig (Projektdeltager)
  • Sifft, Stefanie , Bremen University, Tyskland (Projektdeltager)
Se relationer på Aarhus Universitet
The Public Sphere Research Group is part of the Collaborative Research Centre on Transformations of the State (TranState) at the University of Bremen. It is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). It deals with an aspect of the transition of statehood which is situated in the nexus of the debates on legitimacy, collective identity and democracy. We analyze the transnationalization of public spheres in Europe in the wake of the political process of European integration. Our main research questions are:

• Is there a transnationalization of public spheres in Europe?
• What are the patterns of this transformation of public spheres?
• What are the factors constraining or facilitating this process?
• What are the effects on the legitimacy of the EU?

Consequently, our research proceeds in three steps: In the first phase of the project (2003-2006) we investigated the patterns of Europeanization of national public sphereswith regard to newspaper coverage. In the second phase (2007-2010) we aimed at explaining these findings by looking at the conditions such as political discourse cultures and journalistic production practices which coin this process in different European countries. The third step (2011-2014) intends to analyze the effects of Europeanization on the citizens´ public connections, their associated understandings of legitimation, political identification and participation.

First Phase (2003-2006)

Data Collection - In the first phase we realized a multidimensional analysis of the patterns of Europeanization of public spheres in five countries (A, D, DK, F, GB) comparing the years from 1982 to date. In more detail: The quantitative content analysis of European news coverage covered three of the four dimensions related to our analysis (monitoring EU-governance, discursive integration, discourse convergence, collective integration). It is based on about 3000 "discursive articles" (articles which contain some element of opinion-giving on general political issues: commentaries, interviews, news-analysis etc.) selected from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, The Times, Le Monde, Die Presse, and Politiken in 1982, 1989, 1996 and 2003.

Findings - A substantial and statistically significant trend towards the transnationalization of national public spheres occurs only in the first dimension: Monitoring governance. Here we clearly find a process of Europeanization that occurs in all newspapers in our sample. For the two horizontal dimensions mutual observation and discursive exchange, we find stagnation. On the fourth dimension, we find a weak trend towards Europeanization of collective identities on a very low level. Our study thus shows that a pattern of segmented Europeanization emerges: European governance is increasingly subject to public scrutiny, but common discourse in Europe does not intensify and a sense of belonging to the same community is rarely evoked in public debates.
Periode01/01/2003 → …

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