Transcultural Public Actors – A Case Study of Polish-German Political Communication
How can one conceive of transcultural public spheres? Scholars in the field of Europeanization or globalization seek approaches to answer this question, but they struggle with the phenomenon that communication flows are limited to nation states. Driven by this discussion, my dissertation project examines the eventual constitutive role of transcultural political actors (TPA) within transcultural public spheres, focusing on the case of political communication in Polish–German relations. The term TPA embraces celebrities from this area who are equally and regularly present in the media framework of both countries. Guided by the principles of Grounded Theory, the dissertation aims at a thick description of the TPA phenomenon to both analyse the TPA role as elite celebrities constitutive of transcultural public spheres of the media and journalists and consider the TPA perspective. Based on a large-scale analysis of political media content (both Polish and German dailies, weeklies, and TV) a first relevant group of TPAs was identified by their transcultural (in both countries) and cross-cultural (in different media formats such as tabloids and TV) media presence. Another criterion is the acknowledgment of their role as celebrities. This ‘approval’ of TPA group members, and thus the indication of other relevant actors, emerges from guided interviews with transcultural public actors (14 in total) and journalists dealing with the area of PolishGerman political communication (8 in total). A theoretical sample of relevant TPAs was thus created by reconfirming the media analysis results by talking to actors ‘from inside’. Coding to date (work in progress) of this data set brought to light two central strongly related aspects of characteristics of the TPA roles with regard to the transcultural public sphere. On the one hand, TPAs and media actors underpin the significance of the transcultural interaction network in which they are engaged. From their viewpoints, TPAs gain credibility as political communication celebrities from this network, which allows them access to the media. On the other hand, in their media activities TPAs and journalists emphasise the significance of TPAs’ nationalities and their ability to match verbally the discourse culture of the given country. The existence of a transcultural media network and the transcultural media presence of TPAs as celebrities in political communication thus seem not necessarily to constitute a common political communication, but to share and thus reassure nationally framed discourse cultures.