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Explaining Citizens’ Participation in a Transnational European Public Sphere

In: Comparative Sociology
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Jürgen Gerhards Institut für Soziologie, Freie Universität Berlin Garystrasse 55, 14195 Berlin Germany j.gerhards@fu-berlin.de

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Silke Hans Institut für Soziologie, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen Platz der Göttinger Sieben 3, 37073 Göttingen Germany silke.hans@sowi.uni-goettingen.de

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Globalization and Europeanization processes have led to an increasing public sphere deficit. This deficit can be addressed by a transnationalization of the individual countries’ national public spheres. This requires a perception of discussions in other national public spheres, a condition which is met if citizens of a nation-state follow reporting of issues in other countries. Using Eurobarometer surveys, we examine the extent to which citizens of 27 European countries engage with foreign media and the factors that determine participation in a transnational public sphere. Only a small minority of EU citizens engage with foreign media, and there are considerable differences between countries and citizens. Using multilevel techniques we find that besides other factors education, professional status and multilingualism play a crucial role in explaining participation in a transnational public sphere, resources which are distributed very unevenly among citizens. Thus, participation in a transnational public sphere is an issue of social inequality.

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