, Volume 63, Issue 2, pp 207–244 | Cite as

Transnationalisierte Öffentlichkeit und Klimapolitik

Akteursensembles in der Medienberichterstattung von 15 Ländern
  • Mike S. Schäfer
  • Senja Post
  • Rafael Schwab
  • Katharina Kleinen-von Königslöw


Die kommunikationswissenschaftliche Öffentlichkeitsforschung hat sich in den vergangenen Jahren verstärkt mit transnationalisierten Formen von Öffentlichkeit beschäftigt. Allerdings gehen nur wenige empirische Arbeiten über die (mögliche) Entstehung einer europäischen Öffentlichkeit hinaus. Daher analysieren wir anhand der medienöffentlichen Debatten in 15 Ländern über die Klimapolitik – ein Thema, das oft als möglicher Kristallisationspunkt für die Entstehung transnationaler oder gar „globaler“ Öffentlichkeiten dargestellt wird – inwieweit die Akteursensembles in der Berichterstattung von Qualitätstageszeitungen, Regional- und Boulevardzeitungen transnationalisiert sind und welche Reichweite eine etwaige Transnationalisierung aufweist. Die Analyse zeigt eine beträchtliche Transnationalisierung, die teils über eine Europäisierung hinausgeht. Allerdings ist die Berichterstattung je nach Untersuchungsdimension unterschiedlich transnationalisiert: Transnationalisierte Bezüge zeigen sich eher in „schwacher“ als in „starker“ Form: Ausländische oder supranationale Akteure werden häufiger in der Berichterstattung erwähnt, als dass sie selbst zu Wort kommen. Zudem ist die horizontale Transnationalisierung stärker ausgeprägt als die vertikale: Bezüge auf Akteure aus anderen Ländern finden sich häufiger als Bezüge auf supranationale politische Organisationen. Die Analyse zeigt zudem Länder- und Medienunterschiede, die grosso modo die Befunde der Forschung zu Klimawandel-Kommunikation und europäischer Öffentlichkeit bestätigen: In wirtschaftlich von Klimaschutzmaßnahmen betroffenen Ländern ist die Berichterstattung stärker national geprägt. In Qualitätstageszeitungen ist die Berichterstattung stärker transnationalisiert als in Boulevard- und Regionalmedien.


Öffentlichkeit Inhaltsanalyse Transnationalisierung Globalisierung Klimawandel Klimapolitik 

The transnational public sphere and the case of climate change policy

Actor ensembles in the media coverage of 15 countries


For decades, the analysis of public spheres has been a core field in communication science and neighboring disciplines. Its special importance is grounded in the assumption that the public sphere is the primary realm of societal self-understanding, a sphere in which collectively relevant issues, potential solutions and the activity of political and other stakeholders is discussed and put up for scrutiny and legitimization. In much of this research, the media have played a key role, as they were seen as the generally accessible, permanent and comprehensive “master forum” of the public sphere.

In recent years, however, scholarship on the public sphere has undergone a “major theoretical shift”, namely, a widening of the analytical perspective from national to transnational concepts of public spheres. Against the backdrop of a general transnationalization of the social sphere, communication scholars have increasingly paid attention to transnational forms of public sphere(s). Many of them, however, have focused on the (potential) emergence of a European public sphere in light of the expansion of the European Union, and only recently has research started to address transnational public spheres beyond Europe.

This study ties in with this field of research. An empirical analysis of (potential) transnational public spheres was conducted by focusing on a subject which has been interpreted as a focal point for the emergence of a transnational or even global public sphere: international climate change policy. Due to its high priority and wide reach, international climate policy is said to constitute conditions conducive for a potential transnationalization of public spheres.

We understand transnationalization as a pervasion of national public spheres with transnational references that can be distinguished along two analytical dimensions: “Vertical” transnationalization describes the extent to which organizations and actors representing a form of supranational governance are represented and/or (de)legitimized in national public spheres. The “horizontal” transnationalization describes the extent to which organizations or actors from foreign countries are represented within national public spheres.

In addition, we differentiate a “strong” and “weak” variant of vertical resp. horizontal transnationalization. For example, a “weak vertical transnationalization” characterizes a case where supranational governance institutions are merely mentioned within a national public sphere; whereas a “strong vertical transnationalization” characterizes a situation where actors from supranational governance institutions have the opportunity to actively express themselves.

Our main research questions are 1) to what extent is the media coverage about climate policy in the examined countries pervaded by transnational references? 2) Which patterns of transnationalization can be identified in the media coverage about climate policy in the examined countries?

We conducted a manual as well as an automated quantitative content analysis of newspaper coverage about climate change policy in 15 countries. We analyzed 4955 news articles from quality, tabloid and local newspapers for the whole year of 2014. The articles were downloaded from databases like LexisNexis and Factiva, using a complex search string in four languages. The automated content analysis—used to identify the weak variant of transnationalization—followed the “dictionary approach”, with dictionaries based on elaborated word lists (in German and English) that were translated into Portuguese and Spanish and further adapted for this study. The results of the automated content analysis were tested against a manual analysis of 50 randomly selected articles, with very good reliability for each language-specific dictionary (Krippendorff’s Alpha above 0.909). Regarding the manual content analysis—used to identify the strong variant of transnationalization—11 coders were trained and achieved a satisfying to good reliability (Krippendorff’s Alpha above 0.72).

Firstly, our analysis shows a visible transnationalization of public debates about climate change policy. In all countries, foreign and supranational actors dominate the domestic news coverage (weak pattern). Conversely, regarding the strong pattern of transnationalization national actors who actively express themselves are dominant.

Secondly, our findings show that the transnationalization of the public sphere differs depending on the dimension examined. On the one hand, the horizontal transnationalization appears more often than the vertical one: References to actors from other countries in climate policy-related debates appear more often than references to supranational institutions. On the other hand, transnational references tend to appear rather in a weak than a strong pattern: Foreign or supranational actors are mentioned more often than they express themselves actively. Furthermore, transnational references seem to concentrate on a few actors like the UN, the EU, China and the USA.

Thirdly, we found country and media type-related differences regarding the extent, structural patterns and reach of transnationalization. Media type differences seem to correspond with the findings research about European public sphere yielded: News coverage of quality papers is more transnationalized than regional and especially tabloid papers.


Public sphere Content analysis Transnationalization Globalization Climate change Climate policy 

Supplementary material

11616_2018_420_MOESM1_ESM.docx (289 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, ein Teil von Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mike S. Schäfer
    • 1
  • Senja Post
    • 1
  • Rafael Schwab
    • 1
  • Katharina Kleinen-von Königslöw
    • 2
  1. 1.Institut für Kommunikationswissenschaft und MedienforschungUniversität ZürichZürichSchweiz
  2. 2.Universität HamburgHamburgDeutschland

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