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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Comparative Politics

European Integration

The formation of public opinion about European integration: political explanations, party competition, and individual dispositions

This project investigates the causes and consequences of citizen attitudes toward European integration and the European Union. The key purpose of this research is to determine whether political elites – politicians, experts, parties – have the capacity to influence public opinion and manufacture political majorities. I argue that political elites can transform public opinion about European integration, while the effectiveness of their efforts is highly contingent on the features of their varying audiences, the political explanations they use to justify their positions, and the dynamic nature of party competition.  The research project analyzes the influence of elites on public opinion about European integration by conducting a series of ten political psychological experiments in conjunction with a comparative historical investigation and an analysis of observational data from public opinion surveys, media content assessments, and party manifesto codings. This multi-method approach offers a more nuanced view of the dynamic interaction between political elites and citizens, and it facilitates conclusions with high internal and external validity. Combining experimental methodology with a comparative historical investigation and the analysis of existing quantitative data sources allows me to evaluate, amend, and extend a body of scholarship that relies almost exclusively on observational data. The research aims to determine the nature of the connection between elite and mass politics as well as the scope and limits of elite influence on public opinion. It contributes to an evaluation of prior work, but it also introduces new topics and directions to the study of public opinion, EU politics, and the interaction between elite and mass behavior.

Principal Investigator: Konstantin Vössing


Research grant (VO 1990/1-1) from Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG