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The Multilingual InternetLanguage, Culture, and Communication Online$
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Brenda Danet and Susan C. Herring

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195304794

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195304794.001.0001

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The European Union in Cyberspace

The European Union in Cyberspace

Democratic Participation via Online Multilingual Discussion Boards

(p.384) (p.385) 17 The European Union in Cyberspace
The Multilingual Internet

Ruth Wodak

Scott Wright

Oxford University Press

This chapter analyzes the European Union’s “Futurum” discussion forum, which was intended to help close the gap (“democratic deficit”) between institutions and citizens by facilitating a virtual, multilingual, transnational public sphere. Futurum was both an interesting example of how the EU’s language policies shape the structure of deliberative experiments and of a public debate about their relative value. Various quantitative measures of the discussions are combined with a critical discourse analysis of a thread that focused on language policies. Although the debates were predominantly in English, if a thread started in a language other than English, linguistic diversity was more prominent. Discourse and argumentation analysis of multilingual threads showed that multilingual interaction was fostered, and that the debate about language policies was politically and ideologically charged. The analysis also illustrates that deliberation and compromise were achieved, in contrast to other recently investigated discussion forums.

Keywords:   argumentation analysis, critical discourse analysis, democratic deficit, electronic democracy, European Union, gender differences, language policies, language shift, public sphere, topic choice

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