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EU-Skepticism Online: A Comparative Content Analysis of Two Online Platforms from Sweden and Denmark

Anamaria Dutceac Segesten, Michael Bossetta

The 2014 elections for the European Parliament are likely to result in the highest number of MEPs representing right-wing parties across Europe. The prolonged eurocrisis and its direct, visible effects (e.g. unemployment and poverty) have already polarized the public opinion in many of EU:s member states, leading to numerous street protests. The internet is another site where EU contestation takes place.In the present paper we propose to compare two online platform consisting of user-generated content, where the exchange of ideas and opinions is unfiltered and largely unmoderated. Flashback is the leading online discussion forum in Sweden and one of the most popular sites of interaction for those euroskeptic voices coming from the right side of the political spectrum. 180grader is its Danish equivalent. Our research question is: Are there any differences in the discourse surrounding EU-criticism between Sweden and Denmark? Methodologically we combine quantitative and qualitative content analysis of the forum discussions pertaining to the EU critique taking place on the two platforms respectively. Our focus is thus not on the republished content originated in traditional media channels but on the user-generated comments and posts on the two sites. The working hypothesis is that we are likely to uncover differences between the Swedish and Danish sites stemming from the divergence in political cultures between the two countries. We interpret the results in a model that uses multiculturalism and nationalism as the two poles on a continuum of attitudes coming out of the discourses. We discuss finally the consequences of the expected Swedish-Danish divergence of online debate content for the idea of a unified European public sphere.

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