We’re now in the final plenary session at ECREA 2010, which starts with a keynote by Ruth Wodak. Her interest is in a multi-level, qualitative, and longitudinal analysis of the European public sphere (EPS), which necessitates a multidisciplinary approach. She begins by taking us back to the signing of the Treaty of Rome, which started the process of European unification – at a virtually all-male, all-elderly meeting of (western) European heads of state.
Compare this, for example, with the original Website of the European Union, as a very different public space – constructed at some great effort, but highly bureaucratic, and ultimately shut down for being ineffective in engaging with citizens – or with the at once transnational and local public spheres which formed for example around the mass demonstrations across Europe at the start of the Iraq war.
So, there are many genres of public spaces and public spheres in Europe, which can be approached from perspectives including the Europeanisation of the national, the formation of structures of resonance across Europe, the transnationalisation of (national) public spheres, the Europe of multiple publics and multiple public spheres, or the Europe of multiple vertical and horizontal flows of communication.