« All articles from this issue

Questioning the European Public Sphere, Vol. 19 - 2012, No. 1

Ethno-National, Religious, Ideological and Sexual Diversity: European Elite and Citizen Views Compared

, , pages: 85-102

In contexts of multi-level governance, such as we find in the European Union, where elites are more active in the public sphere, it is particularly crucial to assess whether citizens’ views correspond to the views of the elites who claim to represent them. This article compares the views of elites with the views of representative samples of citizens, with a focus on their views on ethno-national, religious and sexual diversity. Findings confirm relationships between elite/citizens views and revealed several rules: Firstly, ethnic and ideological groups which were commonly rejected from neighbourhoods were recognised by elites as relevant for social diversity. Secondly, the most accepted migrant workers by citizens were also viewed as most relevant for social diversity by elites. Finally, sexual diversity manifested a more complex relationship – where gays are most accepted, they are either viewed by elites as highly relevant (Austria, Denmark) or irrelevant for social diversity (Czech Republic, France, Italy, Spain). In countries with high public rejection of gays, LGBT tend to be viewed by elites as very relevant (Turkey, Bulgaria, Estonia). Elite views of relevance push the public to a greater tolerance; public intolerance increases recognition of relevance of marginalised groups.

pdf icon Full text PDF | quote icon Export Reference | permalink icon

« All articles from this issue