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The fourth estate? media, frames and political behaviour towards the EU in comparative perspective

The fourth estate? media, frames and political behaviour towards the EU in comparative perspective


How do the media report EU affairs, and to what extent may such coverage shape public attitudes and behaviour towards integration? MEDPOL aim is twofold: to investigate how media coverage of the EU has evolved since the signature of the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992 until today, and to assess the impact of news content and frames on political attitudes and behaviour towards the EU in different member states. Drawing on various disciplines - Political Science, Communication Studies and Political Economy - the project follows a mixed methods approach grounded on agenda-setting and framing theories. It consists of a qualitative and quantitative analysis of media content in four states: Italy, Portugal, Spain and France. Manual and automated coding of press content and Natural Language Processing (NLP) techniques will be used to analyse large amounts of textual data while maintaining rigorous methodological standards. MEDPOL brings together content analysis, electoral data and open-access social and economic indicators in order to analyse how issue visibility and media framing may influence electoral behaviour in different countries and social groups.
Findings will further our understanding of how certain terms or sentences have been used to frame EU affairs and to express different ideas about the EU. MEDPOL analyses how these frames emerge and evolve over time, and through which mechanisms they may compete with each other and contribute to political polarisation. Finally, MEDPOL contributes to the diffusion of content analysis techniques, mixed methods and interdisciplinary approaches devoted to understand the role of the media as a political actor. Outputs include two peer-reviewed publications, a monograph, an open-access code that allows the method to be adapted to other cases, an academic workshop, a series of evidence-based comments aimed at a non-specialised audience (journalists, policy-makers, watchdog organisations), and public engagement activities.
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Activity type

Higher or Secondary Education Establishments

EU Contribution

€ 196 707,84

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 841111


Grant agreement signed

  • Start date

    1 October 2019

  • End date

    30 September 2021

Funded under:


  • Overall budget:

    € 196 707,84

  • EU contribution

    € 196 707,84

Coordinated by: