Workshop: “EU Communication Transformed? Politics and Media in Crisis Mode”

Date: Tuesday, March 8th, 2016
Place: Cologne (Germany)
Contact person: Leonard Novy


Additional Information

Find the call for papers here…



Sofia Vasilopoulou (Department of Politics, University of York) - Europe in crisis? Public opinion on the UK referendum and what this means for campaigns





Maria Antonia Calleja-Reina (University of Malaga) - New challenges for the European Union: Crisis Communication in social media through European projects





Valentina Pricopie (Romanian Academy, Institute of Sociology, Bucharest) - Current Views on Democracy: European Public Diplomacy on the Romanian Parliamentary Stage




The aim of this paper is to identify and to analyse the dichotomy of the current fractured European visions on democracy between, on the one hand, the European ideal, value and principle, and, on the other hand, its national practices and realities in Romania, as seen by the EU public diplomacy “ambassadors” in their official allocutions. The paper employs a discourse analysis applied to a corpus which consists of six speeches presented by foreign guests in the plenum of the Romanian Parliament, between 2007 and 2013. All of them were EU representatives, who emphasized the democratic ideal thesis in argumentative discourses of authority, oscillating between `power in discourse` and `power over discourse` (Wodak, 1996) perspectives, which are investigated in relation with the EU dominant narratives on democracy and their mise en scène in front of the national Parliament of a new member state. The paper is guided by the following research questions: how common is the common topos of democracy in the European Union? which are the discursive strategies that circumscribe the spreading of a European common view on democracy in a specific national context?. This study thus interrogates the discursive topoï of the European construction and their common (universal) and specific (European) dimensions, as well as their nationally framed understanding of Europe.
The theoretical and methodological framework is provided by the argumentation theory and new rhetoric perspective on deliberative discourse, with a focus on the recent practices of public diplomacy at the European central level. In this context, the discursive topoï`s significance could be interpreted in terms of soft power and public diplomacy (M. K. Davis Cross & J. Melissen, 2013), knowing that the discourse of official representatives is one of the most significant tools and vehicles for the transmission and dissemination of the shared norms and values. 


Vazha Tavberidze (Tbilisi Open University & Georgian Journal, Tbilisi, Georgia) - The Impact of EU communication policy in Ukraine on South Caucasus countries





Stanislav Černega (Faculty of Social and Economic Sciences, Comenius University, Bratislava) - An Analysis of Social Network Communication of Slovak Political Actors during Refugee Crisis




This study presents a kind of ‘mapping exercise’ that focuses on political communi- cation of Slovak political actors on Facebook in relation to the EU and current refugee crisis. The aim of the study is to show the way refugee crisis is portrayed and present different communication strategies used by three important Slovak political actors (prime minister, president, and Euroscepticism MEP). 


Iasonas Lamprianou (Department of Social and Political Sciences University of Cyprus) - The local activism on the Golden Dawn




Extreme right parties in Europe often resort to militant activism to communicate their messages to voters. This is especially the case with neo-Nazi and neofascist parties, which lack access to communicative resources due to their extreme ideology and, often, violent tactics (Ellinas 2010). The voluminous literature on extreme right parties acknowledges the importance of militant activism (e.g. Klandermans and Mayer 2005, Art 2001, Goodwin 2011) but so far this aspect of extreme right politics has defied systematic examination. This paper breaks new empirical ground by presenting evidence from an original dataset of 5000 activities reported online by one of the most extreme political parties in Europe, the Greek Golden Dawn. The activities are reported on a regular basis on the central party website across a period of over three years. They provide a rare overview of the range of activism party militants undertake in each of the 70 branches of the party. The paper documents the resources the party devotes to the ideological training of its militants, to the historical indoctrination of party members and to political propaganda. It also shows the emphasis placed on political and social activism.
Political activism includes street canvassing and highly symbolic commemoration of historical events. Social activism involves giving food, clothes and blood to “Greeks only.” Although much is made about the latter type of activity (Koronaiou and Sakellariou 2013; Ellinas 2015), the systematic examination of all party activities shows how limited this type of activism is.
For the most part, the criminal prosecution of party leaders and functionaries in 2013 has not brought about a major disruption in the local organizations of the party. Most local organizations continued their activities after the imprisonment of the party leader and showed stable levels of activism. Moreover, the data shows the notable variation in the development of various local branches. Some managed to organize hundreds of events throughout this period, routinizing their activity and sustaining high levels of activism. Others failed to organize anything past their inaugural event and became empty shells or shut down.
The paper fits well within the aims and objectives of the Workshop because it offers a rare glimpse of how an extreme right political party, which has been excluded from the mainstream mass media and had its leaders prosecuted, has turned to the internet as a means of communication. The presentation will elaborate on the practical and methodological issues concerning the use of internet for purposes of data collection.


Dimitris Koryzis (European Project Innovation Center, Hellenic Parliament, Athens) - Parliamentary Challenges and innovations




The paper is describing the way that the legislative functions of parliaments could be transformed by social and technological change, notably the rising importance of the internet, social media, crowdsourcing and the possible implications for parliamentary democracy and the public sphere at the national level. Furthermore, it presents a comparative analysis of digital democracy among Parliaments of Europe, as well as a range of technological challenges that modern parliaments face today. 


Petra Pinter (Corvinus University, Budapest) - The Impact of Social Media on Political Agenda-setting




The paper is an interdisciplinary study of the media and political science, which will illustrate the ‘relocation of politics’ (Bovens et al., 1995) to collective decision-making arenas and new arenas of decision-making (Castiliogne and Warren, 2008). The changing dynamics in legitimacy have various symptoms, including lower election turnouts, the rise of anti-establishment parties and the reduced use of traditional media, which changes the way electors are influenced. These factors combined undermine the representational link between political institutions and citizens (Mair, 2009) and precipitate a ‘legitimacy gap’. This gap may have been widened with the current crises of the Eurozone, Greek debt, Ukraine and migration, thus the EU and representatives must find the methods of more effective communication.

With changed dynamics, effective communication could be the key in restoring consensus and cooperation. In order to reshape these changing dynamics and restore greater legitimacy, electors should be involved in agenda-setting and decision-making, which could be achieved by monitoring social media and encouraging effective two-way discussion, giving the electors’ opinion weight.
This theoretical study examines political agenda-setting and new types of media within the framework of political communication. Agenda-setting traditionally follows the sequence of politics-media-public and the media broadcasts a constructed reality and collateral information. According to Wanta and Wu (1992), discussions of the given topics aid in reducing the suggested interpretations of the issues. While in 1994 television was the most quickly reacting media (Wanta and Hu), Roberts (et al., 2002) states that public discussion on the internet is the quickest way to provide or obtain information.
Bogdanor (2001) asserted that new types of media decrease the impact of traditional mass-media on the public. Willams and Delli Carpigni (2004) stated that in the new media environment there are no boundaries to the flow of news and that the media elite is no longer capable of controlling the presentation and interpretation of issues.

The style of parties’ communication has evidently changed over time: in modern small or mid-sized democratic countries the mainstream media remained ever more subservient to the biggest political parties, yet the internet is difficult to control given its many sources of information and the intensive discussions among the electorate. This paper will illustrate the history of the changes in collective decision-making arenas and show how effective discussion could be used to effect restoration of the legitimacy of political institutions.




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