European narratives on social media platforms: the Italian case during the Covid-19 pandemic
We present the findings of a quali-quantitative study of public opinion concerning Europeanization on social media platforms in Italy during the Covid-19 pandemics. The study aims to investigate which narratives about Europe are published on Italian digital platform. The research is based on a content and discourse analysis of the 720 most impactful posts published by different actors on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, between September and November, 2021. In order to assess the state of online discussions bearing the highest level of engagement during the pandemics, we took into account the actors responsible for the posts, the narratives surrounding the most relevant European issues (based on EuroBarometer polls), and the sentiment towards Europe.
Our quantitative results show that professionally-produced content is more dominant, and the main topics on the social media agenda are Health and Economy, in particular related to health measures and the social and economic restrictions imposed by the Italian government on citizens. Our qualitative results show that Europeanization constituted a leverage for populism in news and contents on Italian social media platforms. The positioning towards Europe is fluid and ambivalent (encompassing both positive and negative sentiment) in populist rhetoric, and Europeanization is manipulated for national purposes.