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The European Public Sphere, the Media, and Support for European Integration

Florian Stöckel

Berliner Studien zur Soziologie Europas Nr. 20 | November 2009 | Download als PDF


The goal of this study is to find out whether the emergence of a European public sphere (EPS) contributes to EU support in its affective and evaluative dimensions. The EPS is conceptualized as an entity resting on Europeanized national public spheres. The media is seen as the most important place where Europeanization manifests itself. As an example of Europeanized public spheres, data on the coverage of the 2004 European Parliament election is used. The data set involves measures on EU salience in the media and tone of the messages, and is analyzed together with individual level data on EU support from the 2004 European Election Study. In contrast to earlier approaches to similar data of the 1999 EP elections, multilevel analysis is used to account for the hierarchical structure of the data. In particular, this study analyzes whether the media exerts an independent effect on evaluative and affective support. Additionally, it focuses on whether the impact of cognitive mobilization and egocentric utilitarianism as individual level predictors for EU support varies depending on the Europeanization of national public spheres. A positive, significant effect was found between the tone of the media context and evaluative support. Cross-level interaction effects revealed that EU salience significantly increases the importance of class affiliation when it comes to affective and evaluative support. Utilitarian considerations are found to differentiate people in their EU support only in the presence of negative EU coverage, but not when coverage is positive. This study comes to the conclusion that an emerging EPS can have a positive effect on support for the EU, resulting in a more critical, but also more alerted public.

Soziologie - Euiropäische Gesellschaften