Shaping Abortion Discourse: Democracy and the Public Sphere in Germany and the United States

By Myra Marx Ferree; William Anthony Gamson et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER ELEVEN
Measuring the Quality of Discourse

In this chapter we analyze empirically the three sets of questions raised in the previous chapter – who speaks, how and what they communicate, and what is the outcome of the discourse – to compare the extent to which the normative criteria of the different theoretical traditions are met in Germany and the United States.


THE INCLUSION ISSUE

Who speaks? We have already operationalized this with the concept of standing and have largely answered it in Chapter Five (summarized in Table 5.1). State and party actors are 75% of the speakers in Germany compared to 40% in the United States. The residual 25% in Germany is given over mainly to the Catholic and Lutheran churches and to experts, with a negligible 2% going to Pro and Anti movement organizations. The discourse focuses heavily on legislative and judicial actions, keeping citizens well informed about what their representatives are doing. This discourse looks very much like what the representative liberal model would consider ideal.

In the United States, in contrast, state and party actors are a minority and Pro and Anti movement organizations make up about onequarter of all speakers. The U. S.newspapers are three times as likely as German newspapers to quote individuals who are not spokespersons for anyone but themselves. U. S. discourse is slightly higher in including experts (6%, versus 4% in Germany), but experts are practically the only individuals who are quoted in Germany. They are only 40% of the individuals with standing in the United States. These results all suggest that the German discourse comes closer to meeting the elite dominance norm of representative liberalism while the United States better

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Shaping Abortion Discourse: Democracy and the Public Sphere in Germany and the United States
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents vii
  • Tables and Figures ix
  • Foreword xi
  • Preface xv
  • Glossary xix
  • Part I - Introduction 1
  • Chapter One - Two Related Stories 3
  • Chapter Two - Historical Context 24
  • Chapter Three - Methods 45
  • Part II - Major Outcomes 59
  • Chapter Four - The Discursive Opportunity Structure 61
  • Chapter Five - Standing 86
  • Chapter Six - Framing 105
  • Part III - Representing Different Constituencies 129
  • Chapter Seven - Representing Women's Claims 131
  • Chapter Eight - Representing Religious Claims 154
  • Chapter Nine - Representing the Tradition of the Left 179
  • Part IV - The Quality of Abortion Discourse 201
  • Chapter Ten - Normative Criteria for the Public Sphere 205
  • Chapter Eleven - Measuring the Quality of Discourse 232
  • Chapter Twelve - Metatalk 255
  • Chapter Thirteen - Lessons for Democracy and the Public Sphere 286
  • Methodological Appendix 305
  • References 325
  • Index 339
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