"Assessing legitimacy in the Southern Eurozone crisis through Discursive Actor Attribution Analysis of media reports, 2009-2013"
Moritz Sommer, Jochen Roose, Kostas Kanellopoulos, Maria Kousis, Franziska Scholl – 2014
The Eurozone crisis has transformed into a dramaticlegitimacy crisis for domestic as well as European political actors. The collapseofpublic support and increasing levels of public attention and societal conflict put political actors under intensive legitimation pressure that has to be dealt with. In the sense of Alexander (2006) who conceives of politics as a “discursive struggle” between actors over public supportwe test in how far legitimation pressure can explain communication behaviorduring the crisis.This paper draws on fresh empirical data on patterns of attributing responsibilityduring the Eurozone Crisis in Greece and Germany. The data stems from a collaborative Greek-German research project (GGCRISI) applying a novel empirical tool, Discursive Actor Attribution Analysis which allows approaching discursive strategies of self-legitimationvia adetailed analysisof publiccommunicationpatterns. First results from this research show that the crisis is more controversially debated in a country hit stronger by the crisis (Greece), producing a larger number of responsibility attributions and a higher share of causal attributions. Moreover, we show that higher levels of legitimation pressure translate into higher levels of public sphere activity and we can partially confirm that legitimation pressure leads to a greater relevance of positive self-presentation in the public sphere. (Paper for the section "Reshaping State and Society in Southern Europe" at the ECPR General Conference in Glasgow)