The European Union in cyberspace: multilingual democratic participation in a virtual public sphere?

Ruth Wodak, Scott Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


This article analyses the European Union′s Futurum discussion forum. The EU hoped that Futurum would help close the acknowledged gap 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. We combine various quantitative measures of the discussions with a critical discourse analysis of a thread which focused on language policies. We found that although the debates were predominantly in English, where a thread started in a language other than English, linguistic diversity was more prominent. The discourse analysis showed that multilingual interaction was fostered, and that the debate about language policies is politically and ideologically charged.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-275
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Language and Politics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sep 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Argumentaion analysis
  • Discourse analysis
  • Electronic democracy
  • European union
  • Language policies
  • Multilingualism
  • Multimodality
  • Public sphere

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