Mediatisation and democratization
The debate about the legitimacy of the EU and the possibilities of its democratisa-tion has so far only rarely addressed the question of the role of the media. An in-strumental approach pre-vails towards the media acknowledging that the so-called gap between the EU and its citizens is grounded in a communication deficit and that the EU should therefore strive towards a higher legitimacy in terms of public accountability, openness and participation, in other words of democracy. The pa-per discusses these technical aspects of public-sphere building from above in rela-tion to the systematic constraints on mediatisation that result from the inertia of the existing (national) media spheres. On the basis of this, an alternative under-standing of mediatisation and its ambivalent effects on the legitimacy of the EU will be developed. The proposal is that European public sphere research should focus on the more active role of the media as an independent variable that affects institutional choices and processes. Empirical results from comparative content analyses are discussed, which illustrate to what extent media have become an ena-bling and/or constraining factor of European integration.
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