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Why the Media Matters: A Postfunctionalist Analysis of European Integration and National Identity in Public Discourse

SHAW, MARK,ROBERT (2016) Why the Media Matters: A Postfunctionalist Analysis of European Integration and National Identity in Public Discourse. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This study contributes to the growing literature on the politicisation of European integration in EU member states, and the United Kingdom in particular. Existing studies have shown that political identities are closely related to the levels of support held by citizens for European integration, and that citizen opposition to the EU is mobilised by political parties who activate the tension between identity and jurisdictional reforms. This study argues that existing theories of integration do not adequately acknowledge the role of the media in national debates about European integration, in light of the media’s role as the main source of information on the EU for citizens. It builds upon Liesbet Hooghe and Gary Marks’ (2009) postfunctionalist theory of European integration, to examine the process by which European integration is politicised in member states, and argues that the media should be theorised as a substantive actor in this process. It presents a new model – Media Augmented Postfunctionalism – that conceptualises the politicisation process and the role of the mass media within it. A discourse analysis of nine UK national daily newspapers and of political party discourses is deployed alongside a quantitative analysis of media positions to explore the linkages between the press, party discourses, and public opinion in the UK between 1997 and 2010.
The thesis presents evidence to suggest that the structure of newspaper positions on European integration is similar to that of parties. It goes on to explore the content and character of newspaper discourses, and shows that there is a strong association between the position of newspapers on the ‘new politics’ dimension and their discursive construction of the EU: those newspapers that have a strongly traditional-authoritarian- nationalist position are more likely to oppose European integration. It demonstrates that while there is a strong and cohesive anti-European discourse in the UK press, there is not a corresponding coherent pro-European discourse. This thesis finally shows that newspapers play an important role in mediating party discourses and that they substantively (re-)frame public debates on European integration, determining their character. These findings suggest that the mass media can alter the outcomes of the politicisation and contestation of the EU in member states.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:European Studies; European integration; Postfunctionalism; media; parties; European Union; EU; United Kingdom; political science
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Government and International Affairs, School of
Thesis Date:2016
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:07 Mar 2017 09:23

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