|dc.description.abstract||This research undertakes an analysis of British public debates on the EU in the two weeks
leading up to the Brexit-referendum. Based on a conceptualization of the public sphere, here
understood as the public acts of political communication through which collective actors
create an interactive medium and space of relationships among political institutions and
citizens on issues of European integration, the purpose is to make sense of the evaluative
British public debates.
There are multiple signs that point towards the existence of media effects on
European democratic performance evaluations. Subsequently, the European Public Sphere is
thought to contribute to a more visible ‘European’ public debate. However, the EPS might
also coincide with an increase in negative evaluations of the EU, which likely has an
unfavourable influence on EU public opinion. Therefore, it is important to investigate to
what extent Europeanized public debates show a negative or positive image of the EU in the
British public debate.
The method of claim analysis, provides almost all the information that is needed to
execute an in depth examination of Europeanization in the British public sphere.
Furthermore, following the lead of other studies on the EPS, three quality, nationwide
newspapers from British print media, with different political stances and attitudes towards
the EU were selected for source gathering. The empirical findings show that Europeanized
public debates are significantly more positive in their evaluation of the EU than non
Europeanized public debates. In addition, Europeanized public debates present a very
explicit nature, while non-Europeanized public debates remain relatively ambivalent.
Overall, the findings challenge the current interpretations that the British media
market is unusually Eurosceptic, especially with regard to the Europeanized selections.
Moreover, the results further emphasize that an assessment of sentiment towards the EU,
based solely on Europeanizing claims, falls short because it does not consider how the claim
is posited in the debate.||