Digital publics in transnational spaces: EU blogs and the European public sphere

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UNU Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies
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UNU-CRIS Working Papers
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The paper presents the results of the empirical research conducted on the emerging EU-blogosphere and relates them to the Habermasian notion of the public sphere. Conceptually, it traces the development of the public sphere as a normative category and borrowing from Fraser (2007) establishes a series of criteria that seem to guarantee its effective operation as a democratic bridge between publics and authorities in a transnational context. In the process, it refers to the various empirical works in this area which aim to trace the public sphere in Europe (off/online). The empirical part analyzes the findings of the qualitative research conducted with EU-bloggers (expert interviews and content analysis). The results show that the EU-blogosphere to some extent exhibits characteristics of an effective (if inconsistent) transnational public sphere (extension of democratic debate, promoting an EU-common identity, achieving at times influence). Nonetheless, its deliberative quality is low and overall it remains too small and expert driven. Finally, in order to interpret the findings the paper makes use of Mouffe’s (2005) critical examination of the concept of the public sphere.