Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


The Transformation of Political Mobilisation and Communication in European Public Spheres - EUROPUB.COM, Final Report, EUR 23139

Project ID: HPSE-CT-2001-00046


This project investigates the discrepancy between Europe's institutional development, and the continuing predominance of the national political space as the arena for public debates. This "public sphere deficit" is a core aspect of Europe's "democratic deficit". We study the Europeanisation of public communication and mobilization by comparing across seven countries (D, F, GB, I, E, NL, and CH), seven issue fields (monetary politics, agriculture, immigration, defense, education, pensions, and European integration), and across the period 1990-2002. We also investigate differences among collective actors, with a special focus on the contribution of civil society actors to Europeanised public debates and controversies. Methodologically, we combine content analysis of thousands of newspaper articles and web pages, network analyses of weblinks, and interviews with hundreds of representatives of interest groups, NGO's and political parties, as well as with policy makers and news media professionals.
Our results indicate that the Europeanisation of public contestation has strengthened the influence of state and executive actors who have almost exclusive hegemony in debates over European issues. Civil society actors have hardly gained any foothold on the European level. Europeanisation of public spheres has therefore tended to make public debates less inclusive and less egalitarian. The differential access of actors to European public debates is strongly related to actors' evaluation of the European integration process and their assessment of European institutions. This suggests that the unequal access to European public debates has negative repercussions on support for European integration and European institutions, especially among civil society actors.

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