Pelin Ayan Musil
Mar 1, 2015
While Turkey lacks significant levels of public support from the Czech Republic in its EU bid, the existing studies of European public opinion on the question of Turkey do not bring any reasonable explanation as to why this can be so. To shed light on this problem, this article offers an analytical framework derived from sociological and discursive institutionalism. First, it shows that the historical/cultural context in the Czech Republic has created an informal institution built around the norms of “othering” Muslim societies like Turkey (sociological institutionalism). Second, based on the media coverage of selected political issues from Turkey between 2005 and 2010, it argues that this institution both enables and constrains the “discursive ability” of the media in communicating these issues to its audience (discursive institutionalism). Since the media—as a political actor—mostly acts to maintain this institution and does not critically debate it, the public opinion of Turkey as the “cultural other” remains as a dominant perception. The official support of the political elite for Turkey's accession to the EU does not countervail the media influence, as this support is often not conveyed to the Czech public agenda.