Contesting the European Union in times of crisis: an analysis of Facebook interactions

Pejovic, Milica (2019) Contesting the European Union in times of crisis: an analysis of Facebook interactions. PhD thesis, University of Trento.

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Abstract

The Eurozone crisis and the migration crisis generated a set of decisions at the EU level that aims to jointly mitigate the adverse consequences of economic and political turmoil. However, electoral successes by Eurosceptics at both EU and national levels and shrinking public support for the EU, as evidenced by Eurobarometer surveys, have shown that Euroscepticism has been surging in parallel with tighter cooperation of member states in crisis-ridden policy areas. Consequently, EU institutions have embraced the connecting potential of social media by implementing a series of online communication strategies aimed at selflegitimation and strengthening of public support for European integration. This study addresses the nature of Euroscepticism as reflected in online discussions via conducting a qualitative content analysis of Facebook debates unfolding on the pages of the European Parliament and the European Commission during the peak moments of the Eurozone crisis and the migration crisis. Moreover, the study identifies the public interpretations of different aspects of the two crises framed as existential for the process of European integration. The rhetorical analysis of the Facebook posts reveals how EU institutions utilize social media in order to respond to and normalise public discontent, whereas elite interviews triangulate the findings. The analysis of EU-focused transnational discussions complements the existing studies drawing on public opinion polls regarding public attitudes towards European integration, and re-conceptualises the common explanations for public Euroscepticism, mainly based on utilitarian or cultural hypotheses. The findings stemming from the rhetorical analysis and interviews demonstrate that EU crisis communication perpetuates the ingrained neo-functionalist and elitist modes of interaction despite the novel online communication setting.

Item Type:Doctoral Thesis (PhD)
Doctoral School:International Studies
PhD Cycle:30
Subjects:Area 14 - Scienze politiche e sociali > SPS/11 SOCIOLOGIA DEI FENOMENI POLITICI
Area 14 - Scienze politiche e sociali > SPS/04 SCIENZA POLITICA
Repository Staff approval on:30 May 2019 10:21

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