9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN18 Sociology of Communications and Media Research

2009-09-03 09:00:00 2009-09-03 10:30:00 Thursday, 3 September 09:00 - 10:30 National media and Sef-Observations I Building AA, AA.324

European elections in Italian media: between second order campaign and the construction of a European public sphere

European elections tend to be framed as a pretext to keep discussing national and local issues. This feature is seemingly shared by the majority of the EU members, and represents a common topic in the literature. One reason for this attitude is that the European integration has long been perceived as a transnational process, hardly affecting the political contexts of each nation-state. Moreover, cultural differences among the member states, and the challenges posed by the enlargement of the Union, did not help the formation of a common European public sphere. Rather, the existence of a European public sphere is a matter of a wide and articulated debate. The 2009 elections provide a chance to assess to what extent this process has developed or whether it has changed its shape. One the one side, the trend towards a ?nationalization? of European issues, both in political strategies and news making rhetoric, and to reduce European campaigns to a minor role, is still persistent. Europe often represents more a frame, than a true issue. On the other, there is a consistent process of ?europeanization? of public opinion. Though European issues are often combined with and disguised as national problems, nonetheless movements in public opinion, which involve active European minorities and localized identities, seem to emerge.
Drawing on this perspective, the study of the media coverage of the European elections can improve the knowledge of this topic highlighting the shifting and conflicting trends, and identifying possible future scenarios. This paper is aimed at discussing how the Italian media system has represented the European political campaign through: 1) the analysis of the coverage in the news, the visibility of the campaign in the press, on tv and internet, and which are the issues and actors represented as crucial for the competition; 2) an analysis of local press, in order to investigate to what extent local identities participate in the process of europeanization; 3) the analysis of the web as a possible new space for the emergence of a European public sphere, with a focus on social networks and UGC (YouTube).