Perspectives on
Media Research

Title chapter: An agonistic approach to the Europeanisation of national public spheres: From permissive consensus to empowering dissensus
Author: Alvaro Oleart
Keywords: Europeanisation, European public sphere, transnational democracy, politicisation, European Union, democratic legitimacy
Abstract: While a wide range of competences have been transferred from the national to the European Union (EU) level, the media reporting of political issues remains largely based at the national level. The lack of a single European public sphere (EPS) beyond national borders in the EU might not be a democratic problem "per se" from a deliberative democracy point of view, as long as national public spheres are Europeanised enough for citizens to remain informed and able to participate in the EU policy-making process. However, empirical research has shown that, so far, executive actors (EU Commission and national governments) are overwhelmingly overrepresented in national media outlets when covering EU issues (Koopmans and Statham 2010). This poses a double democratic deficit for the EU. First, as has been suggested by a wide range of scholars, there is a lack of a public sphere where EU issues can be discussed and disseminated. However, the EPS literature fails to identify the second democratic deficit regarding communication flows: the lack of (agonistic) conflict. In the present chapter, it is argued that the role of conflict should be introduced into study of the Europeanisation of national public spheres from a normative perspective, combining a deliberative and agonistic approach with democracy. By doing so, despite the irreconcilable tensions of their respective ontological views, the democratic theories of Habermas (1989) and Mouffe (2000, 2013) will be treated as complementary, to a certain extent. Empirically, the argument suggests that cross-national media content analysis should be undertaken as the central methodology.
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Media and
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