Introduction Passive voters, decrease in citizen participation, deliberation and political action ICTs & the web as a solution? Public sphere? Transnational public sphere? RQ: How does the use of web contribute to the European public sphere?
Public sphere: J. Habermas Public sphere is conceived as a space for the communicative generation of public opinion, in ways that are supposed to assure (at least some degree of) moral-political validity, so it matters who participates and on what terms. In addition, a public sphere is supposed to be a means of mobilizing public opinion as a political force and it is supposed to correlate with a sovereign power, to which its communications are ultimately addressed. (Habermas)
Public sphere: N. Fraser (Normative) theories of the public sphere national communicative infrastructure -> public opinion. mass media are the institutionalised forum of debate = central linkage between the public & institutional structure. Reality profusion of niche media (subnational, transnational) not focused on supervising national state power privatized government operate media outlets instantaneous electronic and satellite information technologies ↓ denationalization of communicative infrastructure: disaggregation + higher complexity of communicative flows.
Europeanization Offline 2 general approaches: 1. comparison of how media report on European issues between member states (Trenz 2004, Koenig in Downey 2006). Findings: attention of the national media for European issues is low, compared to global, national, regional or local issues. 2. analyses of media reports on European issues, compared between different types of media inside a chosen member-state (Trenz 2004, Van der Steeg 2004). Findings: Media mostly report on EU issues in a similar way and also give these issues approximately the same amount of space. Koopmans and Pfetch (2007): media are mostly EU-oriented and therefore contribute to European public sphere by establishing transnational communication channels.
Empirical research: different approaches and methods
If there are common understandings of what constitutes EU, then EU member states can be seen as an indicator of the degree of Europeanization of political communication/public sphere (Van Os, Wester and Jankowski 2007).
Zimmerman and Koopmans (2003): determine 7 dimensions of transnationalism, analyze political party websites in 7 states and 2 periods during 2002.
Findings: hyperlinks from national actors to European actors were more developed, yet strongly concentrated on state actors.
Van Os, Wester and Jankowski (2007) investigate French, British and Dutch political parties websites during 2004 EP elections: Analyze focus and attitude towards Europe.
Findings: there are some common understandings of what constitutes Europe with similar political orientation and the political movements they represent.
Janelle Ward (2005) quantitative content analysis of possibilities for online participation available to youth in the 2004 European Parliament election campaign. Findings : selected web sites primarily provided information and only few encouraged participation. Lusoli (2005) discusses the use of the Internet for electoral information regarding the 2004 European Parliament elections by analyzing data from Flash EuroBarometer 161 for 25 EU countries. Findings : Internet remains a secondary source of information, bur voters active on the Internet are also re-producers of content. Kluver et al. (2006) focus on how political actors on global scale used web during national elections in 2004–2005, examining the features of websites = inscriptions of political actions of web producers. Findings : low level of enthusiasm for online structures promoting civic engagement, but use of web did not simply reify exiting political structures in all countries.
Focus: portrayal of Europe within online communication, party websites.
Employ different methods
‘ E lite’ profile of Internet users
Internet mobilization – mostly already mobilized voters
The web facilitates EPS, especially during EP election campaigns.
Further research suggestions:
Less focus on election campains
I nclude less institutionalized actors like NGOs, interest groups and social movement organizations
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