CFP – 2013

From a European Identity to a European Public Sphere? Media, Networks and Social Protest

A certain degree of consensus is emerging regarding the existence of a democratic deficit in Europe due to the absence of a European Public Sphere. However, there is no agreement on which of these factors is the cause and which the consequence (see Karppinnen, 2009, Trenz, 2009 or Splichal, 2006). That is, some assume that an open and rational public debate, promoted by the media and involving citizens alongside civil society organizations of different countries would bring about a high quality democracy. Conversely, others argue that a high quality European democracy would organically generate a European Public Sphere. In any case, on which social agents would the existence of a European Public Sphere depend? Would it stem from the system of political representation? Would it be a result of the system of media representation? Both would constitute top-down processes – from the sphere of representation to the citizens in general. But can the current wave of grass-roots protests promote a public sphere created bottom-up?

In the wake of the demands for democracy of the Arab Spring, the protests by Spanish “indignados” and the Occupy movements in different parts of the world a social movement has come into existence aiming to develop organizational structures at a European and international level – as was made evident during the Day of International Protest held on 15 October 2011, organized by Democracia Real Ya (in conjunction with Occupy Wall Street in its last phase). More recently, on 14 November 2012, workers’ strikes took place in Portugal, Greece, Spain and Italy during the Day of Social Protest called by unions throughout Europe. This action was supported by civil society organizations throughout Europe which came together in Agora99 in November in Madrid.

These movements raise a variety of question such as:

  • What form would a European Public Sphere take? Is it possible? Is it necessary?
  • Has the objective of constructing a common European identity lost ground to the creation of a space of dialogue and conflict more akin to the concept of ‘Public Sphere’?
  • Is a European Public Sphere being created bottom-up or as a result of common policies originating in Brussels?
  • What roles are the new and old media adopting?
  • Does it make sense to talk of the concept of a European Public Sphere in opposition to that of a Global Public Sphere?
  • The journal welcomes articles discussing the above questions – in particular those closely related to the following themes:
  • The importance of media, blogs and social networks in the formation of a European Public Sphere, with special reference to civil protests.
  • The influence of cosmopolitanism and the Global Social Movement in the European civil protests.
  • The impact of the current crisis on media discourses of European identities.
  • Images of national otherness in the media: the new stereotypes of the Greeks, the Spaniards, the Germans or the PIIGS.
  • The impact of the crisis of journalism on discourses of European identity.

Manuscripts for consideration should be sent to: Please consult the journal’s Note for Authors at The deadline for the receipt of papers is 1 June 2013 (extended). Following selection by the Editorial Committee, all articles will be double blind peer reviewed.

Submissions should be between 6.000 and 9.000 words.

Articles on topics different to this themed issue but falling within the general scope of the journal are also welcome.

Cited bibliography

Karppinen, K. (2009) ‘European Public Sphere and the Challenge of Radical Pluralism’ in Salovaara-Moring, I. (ed) Manufacturing Europe:spaces of democracy, diversity and communication. Nordicom: 53-67.

Splichal, S. (2006) In search of a strong European public sphere: some critical observations on conceptualizations of publicness and the (European) public sphere. Media Culture and Society, vol 28 (5): 696-714.

Trenz, Hans-Jörg (2009) Uniting and Dividing. The European Public Sphere as an Unfinished Project’, in Salovaara-Moring, I. (ed) Manufacturing Europe:spaces of democracy, diversity and communication. Nordicom:19-35.


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