Browsing by Subject "Habermas, Jürgen"

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  • Semkina, Soili (2012)
    The European Union is often argued to be an elite project with which common citizens are not associated. One of the problems is claimed to be the absence of a common public sphere where Europeans can debate societal issues. However, recent developments in communication technology call for rethinking on the European public sphere. The internet provides solutions to many technical obstacles often presented as barriers to transnational debate. The development has beared fruit: There are an increasing number of online publications dealing with the EU or Europe in general. However, the online media’s potential for the European public sphere has not been much researched. This research attempts to fill the gap. The object of this research are European online media that write about the EU or Europe. The main interest is in discovering their possibilities to promote debate on European issues, and the research question is: What kind of a European public sphere do online publications construct? To answer the question, a test model of the European public sphere is constructed based on the descriptive models developed by Erik Eriksen and Marianne van de Steeg. The theory of deliberative public sphere of Jürgen Habermas forms the normative background of this study. In addition, ideas of Chantal Mouffe on agonistic public sphere are elaborated. The developed model is tested in the empirical part. As thorough research has not been conducted previously on the European online media, first a general categorization is made. Fifty online publications are researched and grouped in eight categories. The second phase of empirical research consists of qualitative content analysis. Twelve publications from four categories are analysed. The material comprises news articles on the European sovereign debt crisis. Text samples are analysed with the aid of four indicators actors, topics, sources and virtual contact. One of the most important observations of both categorisation and analysis of the European online media is its diversity in topics, actors or political opinions. The analysis also shows that the debt crisis is a very political topic and holds conflict of interests on the left-wing and right-wing level, contrary to the common claim that the EU is lacking such a political tension. There are only a few references to particular European values even though Europe is the main frame. Also, international news media such as Reuters is often used as a source what indicates to common Western features rather than European features. This applies especially to the online dailies covering the EU issues. Another observation is a sign of an emerging European civic society discovered in the European volunteer and opinion media both of which operate mostly on a volunteer basis. Yet, as citizens play as small role in the debt crisis news coverage, the ideal European public sphere is far from being realised. The European online media is believed to gain more importance and reputation as the online media will develop furher. This research reveals the abundance of it and demonstrates that there is plenty to explore in the Europe Wide Web.