The EU as a public sphere

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Series Details Vol.2, No.3 2007 (updated, August 2012)
Publication Date 2012
ISSN 1813-856X
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This Living Review takes stock of our current theoretical and empirical knowledge with respect to a European public sphere. It first outlines the notion of a public sphere and the incompatibilities between the notion of a public sphere in the nation state and the current state of European integration. It is then argued why a notion of a (Europeanized national) public space for debate between citizens and with power-holders is eminent for the legitimacy and accountability of the EU.

A three-fold typology is proposed that organises previous research on the European public sphere: the Utopian, the Elitist and the Realist perspective.

The diverging conclusions stemming from extant research are reviewed in the light of the methodological pluralism in the studies. It is demonstrated that most signs of Europeanization of national public spheres stem from studies focusing on the quality broadsheet press whereas studies focusing on the popular press, television, and new media provide some, albeit limited evidence (yet) of a Europeanization trend.

The Review looks ahead in both theoretical and methodological terms and also assesses the consequences of the (absence of) a European public sphere and current policy initiatives in this area.

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