Media framings of the issue of Turkish accession to the EU: a European or national process?

Recent empirical research has argued that there is a movement towards a Europeanized public sphere in the European Union. Based on a representative sample from the British, French, Slovenian, Turkish, and US-American press, this article explores via a novel content analytic method that codes frames semi-automatically through keywords, in how far the discourses about the proposed accession of Turkey to the EU approximate a European public sphere. The findings show that discourses do not fulfill basic standards of democratic deliberation: Not only are there vast differences in the intensity of the debates, but the distribution of the main frames that structure the discourse - a "clash of civilizations" between "Islamic Turkey" and "Christian Europe" on the one hand versus a liberal-multiculturalist project that unifies different civilizations under one political roof on the other - are differently distributed across the countries surveyed. The actual manifestations frames vary by country. All frames employed also consider collectivities rather than individuals the major parties of the discourse, a conception that runs against the tenets of rational-democratic deliberations. © 2006 Interdisciplinary Centre for Comparative Research in the Social Sciences and ICCR Foundation.