Causes and consequences of change in public opinion about Europe
Public opinion towards European integration and the EU is divided, especially in the wake of the economic crisis. From being a consensus issue with stable and broad elite and public support across the continent, it is now a contentious issue with swiftly changing opinions. EU opinions, by many dubbed as euroscepticism, include utilitarian considerations, identity issues, and emotions. These EU opinions matter for voting behaviour and for the future course of the EU and European democracies. European integration can only credibly function with public support and yet we know little about what drives and changes this support: we need to know why some people change their opinions about European integration while others do not, and what the consequences of these changes are in terms of electoral behaviour.
In this ERC project we study the causes and consequences of EU opinions. Opinions may change in response to real world developments, domestic political factors, and personal experiences, but very importantly also in response to new information such as provided by the media and in interpersonal and network communication. The project focuses in particular on the impact of communication on changes in opinions, in the context of these other factors. The key question underlying this project is: when, how, for whom, and with which consequences communication matters for changes in public opinion about Europe?