The dialogical creation of public opinion: how the European Union's 'ever closer union' narrative became a public narrative.
- Muirhead 429
- Lectures Talks and Workshops, Social Sciences
Speaker: Kesi Mahendran (Open University, UK)
The polarisation within the 2016 UK-EU Referendum and the 2017 elections in France and the UK demonstrates the extent to which the public are constitutive of the new parameters of European Union’s ‘ever closer union’ narrative. Yet despite the rising democratic fortunes of the public they have yet to capture the political psychological imagination. This article investigates the conceptual reluctance within political psychology to adopt the term ‘public’ in relation to the political activity of citizens.
Proposing that a focus on an electocracy and more recently on a capricious referendocracy risks reducing the public, as Guinier (2008) proposes, to a series of decision-making points in the face of powerful strangers. Dialogical analysis of two studies across seven European cities Scotland and Sweden involving 100 semi-structured interviews and 4 focus groups (n = 100) demonstrate how narratives around ‘ever closer union’ within the European Union are both constitutive of and constituted by a dialogical public.
Participants set up four types of dialogical relations between their own position and a generalised public – avant-garde, advocacy, participant and distancing. Investigating the political psychology of public opinion and the formation of public narratives through such dialogical capacities could hold the key to articulating the parameters and limits of European Union integration.