This introductory chapter explains the rationale and the objectives of the collection focusing on the choices taken to frame the project in a coherent manner despite the apparent diversity of approaches, materials and scopes. First we highlight the role of the national media in European public spheres in sustaining, but also reconstructing, collective identities. Then we proceed to explaining the key concepts permeating all contributions, namely “the other” and othering, distinguishing between two of their key discursive functions – differentiation and discrimination. Next, we provide reasons for looking to semi-public media environments for a more calibrated analysis of othering, arguing that – following the rise of participatory media technologies – the public sphere has been extended to encompass new actors and non-elite voices. We also justify this choice with the reference to the ideological plurality of the contemporary public spheres in Europe and the fact that (critical) discourse analysts have been trying to grasp this complexity by resorting to a range of methodological approaches. We specify the research questions that guide our research, or any research aimed at documenting the diverse discursive forms of othering in media-related contexts. After an overview of the individual contributions, the chapter suggests that a multidisciplinary approach is needed to explore diverse forms of othering. We argue that the exigency and merit of this line of research has become particularly acute in connection with the recent social and political developments throughout Europe.
1.Introduction: Europeans and the national media
2.“The other” and discursive othering
3.Othering in public and semi-public contexts
3.1Deconstructing othering through discourse analysis
3.2Towards a research agenda
3.3The current relevance of the research
4.Overview of the volume
4.1Part I: Othering as political and media practice
4.2Part II: Othering as interpersonal and interactional practice
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