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The Social Glue of the EU? The Effects of Media Identity Framing on Individual European Solidarity.

2. April 2019, 13:00 Uhr

Köln, Konferenzraum (Ost)

Dr. Christophre Starke


Solidarity and the EU are timelessly connected. As a fundamental principle, solidarity provides the social glue that bonds the EU together. Yet, the European debt crisis and other recent intra-European conflicts threaten visions of a unified Europe, even endangering its very existence. More than ever, it seems, the EU is in dire need of European solidarity. The unique potential of solidarity to offer solutions for social problems, when other control mechanisms such as coercion or compensation fail, ensures stability of the EU even in times of severe crisis. This paper, therefore, examines how media framing of European identity in terms of an economic versus a value-based community shapes European solidarity at the individual level. It advances theoretical, methodological and empirical insights on the drivers of European solidarity: First, this work provides an interdisciplinary literature review on solidarity culminating in the novel theoretical concept of individual European solidarity, distinguishing between an attitudinal and a behavioral dimension. Second, the methodological contribution consists of an operationalization of this novel concept and an application to the European debt crisis. Third, a one-shot online experiment (n = 1611) tests the effects of media identity frames on individual European solidarity. Results reveal that exposure to a news article using a value-based (vs. economic) identity frame of the EU slightly increases attitudinal European solidarity, yet not behavioral European solidarity. The effects are conditional upon citizens’ perceptions that European solidarity produces benefits for their own country. The discussion outlines potential implications for the communication strategy of the EU as well as journalism about European politics.

About the Speaker

Christopher Starke works as a post-doctoral researcher for political communication at the Department of Social Sciences and the Düsseldorf Institute for Internet and Democracy (DIID) at the University of Düsseldorf. From 2012 to 2017 he was a PhD candidate at the chair ‘Communication – Media – Society’ of the Institute for Communication Research (University of Münster). In 2016, Christopher Starke completed a research and teaching visit at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. He obtained his PhD in Communication Research from the University of Münster. His dissertation titled ‘United in Diversity? The Effects of Media Identity Framing on Individual European Solidarity’ will be published in 2019. In addition to European solidarity, his research and teaching activities focus on political communication, artificial intelligence, political trust and corruption.