This study focuses on mediated representations of Europe during Euromaidan and the subsequent Ukraine–Russia crisis, analysing empirical material from Ukraine, Poland and Russia. The material includes articles from nine newspapers, diverse in terms of political and journalistic orientation, as well as interviews with journalists, foreign policymakers and experts, drawing also on relevant policy documents as well as online and historical sources.
The material is examined from the following vantage points: Michel Foucault's discursive theory of power, postcolonial theory, Jürgen Habermas's theory of the public sphere, Pierre Bourdieu's field theory, Jacques Derrida's hauntology and Ernesto Laclau's concept of the empty signifier. The methods of analysis include conceptual history (Reinhart Koselleck), critical linguistics and qualitative discourse analysis (a discourse-historical approach inspired by the Vienna school) and quantitative content analysis (in Klaus Krippendorff's interpretation).
The national narratives of Europe in Ukraine, Russia and Poland are characterised by a dependence on the West. Historically, these narratives vacillated between idealising admiration, materialist pragmatics and geopolitical demonising. They have been present in each country to some extent, intertwined with their own identification.
These discourses of Europe were rekindled and developed on during Euromaidan (2013–2014). Nine major Ukrainian, Russian and Polish newspapers with diverse orientations struggled to define Europe as a continent, as the EU or as a set of values. Political orientation defined attitude; liberal publications in all three countries focused on the positives whereas conservative and business newspapers were more critical of Europe. There were, however, divergent national patterns. Coverage in Ukraine was positive mostly, in Russia more negative and the Polish perception significantly polarised.
During and after Euromaidan, Ukrainian journalists used their powerful Europe-as-values concept to actively intervene in the political field and promote it in official foreign policy. This was enabled by abandoning journalistic neutrality. By comparison, Russian and Polish journalists were more dependent on the foreign policy narratives dispensed by political elites and more constrained in their social practice.
With summaries in Swedish and Ukrainian.