Measuring Europeanisation of Public Communication: The Question of Standards
The new agenda of “Europeanisation” in public sphere research lacks theoretical grounding and methodological coherence. This paper raises the question of standards and makes a distinction between the what, the how and the why of Europeanisation.
The emergence of a pan-European public sphere as a correlate of democratic governance in the EU is held to be difficult, if not impossible. This has shifted the research agenda to the Europeanisation of public and media communication. The “European public sphere light” is observed by measuring different degrees of Europeanisation of existing national media spheres. In applied research however, the notion of “Europeanisation” remains often very fuzzy and contested. The new agenda of “Europeanisation” has so far been mainly applied as a pragmatic research strategy. As such, it still lacks theoretical grounding and methodological coherence. For this purpose, the article raises the question of standards. Following a proposal of Johan Olsen, a distinction is made between the what, how and why of Europeanisation. This regards first of all the necessity to set diagnostic standards for designating the different phenomena of what is changing. Second, methodological standards must be set, which indicate how to measure the Europeanisation of public and media communication. Finally, public sphere research must critically address the question of evaluative standards to determine why Europeanisation takes place and when it can be considered to be a sufficient indicator for assessing a public sphere of a new quality.
This article has later been published in European Political Science (2008) 7, 273–284