National media and public debate on citizenship and integration in a multicultural Europe
Through a comparative analysis of the media discourses represented in the national media coverage in Norway, the United Kingdom and Germany, this project will show and discuss the arguments employed in the public debate concerning social and cultural issues of common concern throughout Europe. The project thus focuses on how media discourses partake in a public debate on a European level. The research takes as its starting point the question of the national media’s role in contemporary Europe: How the media discourses frame issues of diversity and polity, what is the relationship between media’s framing of the EU and the nation state on the one hand, and their framing of issues related to diversity on the other? The case used as basis for the analysis of media discourses in this regard, is the coverage of the riots in Paris in October and November 2005. They started out when two teenage boys were electrocuted while trying to escape from the police. The riots had a very violent character, and through the media the riots soon came to be viewed in a broader social and historical context. The French approach to immigration and integration soon came under sharp criticism, and questions were raised of citizenship and identity in light of the French model of liberalism. How did the news media in other European countries cover and discuss these events, and how did they relate to issues of similar character in their own countries, who present different political approaches to the same questions, challenges and problems? The coverage of the riots in Paris in the aforementioned countries is in this project seen as an example of the debate on a European level, and hence the project takes as a premise the existence of a European public sphere, where the European public sphere is perceived as a ‘pluralistic ensemble of issue-oriented publics that exists once the same issues are discussed simultaneously and within a shared frame of reference’ (Lingenberg, 2006: 123). This is, however, debated widely among scholars in Europe. A dominant conclusion in these discussions has been that if such a thing as a European public sphere is going to emerge, then it has to develop from the national media, which also is the starting point for this project.