Citizens in the European Public Sphere: An Empirical Analysis of European Union News
The European public sphere is a communicative space where EU politic, polity and policy issues are discussed. Generally, it is assumed that the mass media are the most important forum of the public sphere in today’s society. This project reviews different models of the public sphere that have formerly been developed in the context of the nation state and outlines their normative expectations concerning the representation of citizens. The conceptual results of this part of the analysis are then linked to the notion of a European, or more precisely, EU public sphere. Next, based on this conception, a quantitative empirical analysis of the EU news coverage from the 27 EU member states is carried out. The actual representation of citizens in the European public sphere is examined. Overall, the project aims to assess which normative model of the public sphere does correspond best with the empirical representation of EU citizens in the European public sphere. Furthermore, it is analysed whether the advancement of the political integration of the EU has led to an increase in media attention on EU citizens. Finally, independently from the models if the public sphere, the relationship of EU citizens to the European integration, as reflected in the public space, is assessed.
In 2013, one major focal point of the “Citizens in the European Public Sphere” research project was examining the factors at the media and country level that impact the visibility of EU citizens in the European public sphere. Results of the research were presented at the ECPR conference in Bordeaux and a paper was submitted for review. Currently, a second paper that compares different normative models of the European public sphere is under preparation.