Multidisciplinary Comparative Approach - EU External Perceptions - University of Canterbury - New Zealand

Multidisciplinary Comparative Approach

The scope of the research encompasses perspectives on the priority topics -- the EU and dialogue between peoples and cultures and Europe’s Changing Role in the World. External images and perceptions of the EU are studied in relation to key areas of EU global involvement, specifically: the EU’s international political influence, economic relations (including agriculture), environment, regulatory regimes, security, society and developmental aid.

Taking into account a complexity of the research subject, the nature of the project "External Perceptions of the EU" is multidisciplinary -- it consolidates trans-national experts and expertise in political science, European integration studies, social studies, media studies, journalism, image studies, cognitive linguistics and critical discourse analysis.  Consequently, multiple methodologies (from content analysis to survey and in-depth interviewing techniques) are employed.

The project’s ultimate goal is to produce scientific data and a comprehensive analysis that will contribute to the policyformulation on how best to raise the international profile of the EU and how to enhance the understanding of Europe’s interactions and interrelations with the leading global players. 

The comparative approach is claimed to "open up new and rather exciting subjects for investigation." [1] One of the advantages of the study is the opportunity to compare external perceptions of the EU across the places and across the time, featuring comparisons between "similar" (e.g. perceptions of the Union in Australia vs. New Zealand, or Japan vs. South Korea, or Fiji vs. Cook Islands, or Thai in 2004 and in 2006), as well as well as "dissimilar" (e.g. Pacific perceptions and images of he EU vs. Asian; North East Asian vs. South East Asian; Australasian vs. Pacific, etc.)

To guarantee the quality of comparative international communication research, the project meets the requirements of validity and reliability, summarized in Chang et al., 2001. [2] The project design is:

  • prioritizing the theory,
  • ensuring vigorous sampling procedures
  • clearly identifying parameters of comparison
  • and recognizing a dual nature of international communication (a process and a product).

The methodology is deductive in its nature -- the determinants for analysis have been formulated and tested in advance during the course of the project. 


[1] P. Lazarsfeld, ‘The Prognosis for International Communications Research’, in H.-D. Fischer and J. C. Merrill (eds), International and Intercultural Communication (New York: Hastings House, 1976), p.487. 

[2] Chang, Tsan-Kuo,  Pat Berg, Anthony Ying-Him Fung, Kent D. Kedl, Catherine A. Luther and Janet Szuba, (2001), ‘Comparing Nations in Mass Communication Research, 1970–97: A Critical Assessment of How We Know What We Know’, Gazette 63, no. 5, pp. 415–434.

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