Transnationalization of the public sphere: dispositions and resources of audience as condition for participation in the European public sphere (empirical typology of Estonian publics)
My PhD topic arises from the common notion that EU-related news is of little or no interest for the wider audiences as well as for media organisations themselves. Numerous empirical studies have demonstrated this lack of interest from the perspective of media coverage. Connected to this is the ongoing theoretical debate on the emerging European public sphere (EPS), which has also been described as an embryonic EPS or an EPS-in-the-making. Much of the theoretical literature is quite cautious if not sceptical regarding the existence of an actual EPS with respect to the absence of several features which constitute the classical Habermasian concept of the public sphere – common media, common language, common public interest etc. However, the present debate and empirical research has not touched much upon audience research and the actual experience of people in social networks (professional, non-governmental, educational etc) that stretch over the national boundaries. The hypothesis is that these networks are a basis for building a common (European) social imaginary and are changing attitudes and interest towards the EU and EU-related media coverage. The aim is to describe the characteristics of these changes through multi-level empirical research.