Sovereign democracy in Ukrainian online media: qualitative content analysis of the discourse of 2020


In contrast to the idea of universalism, which appeared after 1945, a trend towards sovereignty is developing in the modern world. Subject to international norms and laws, this trend towards the supremacy of the interests of individual states and governments is coherent in a world of “clear identities”. However, it has led to the social sciences discussion of the peculiarities of Russian, Eastern European, and Eurasian sovereignty in terms of discourses. However, in the 21st century, not (only) expert discussions have influence, particularly in scientific circles, but also discussions broadcasted by the media. So, recently, through media channels, the idea of the possibility of the “sovereign democracy” existence is being promoted (while experts are still arguing about the possibility of the existence of such a form of government). Since this discourse is directly related to the Russian context, and in the Ukrainian information field, various influences are recorded through Russian narratives, the thought appeared to track whether the idea of sovereign democracy is broadcasted through the Ukrainian media space and with the kind of semantic load. An empirical sociological study analysed reports by Ukrainian online media during 2020, which addressed various aspects of sovereignty and democracy, in particular, “sovereign democracy”. With qualitative content analysis, eight contexts of application of these concepts have been identified. Among them are the following: “American issue”, “Belarusian issue,” and others. All contexts are illustrated with examples of the real discourse of the Ukrainian media. Among the main conclusions of the research is that the presentation of the substantive characteristics of the sovereign democracy concept in the Ukrainian media corresponds to its interpretation by Russian ideologues and has a different content, which is often detached from its conceptual understanding. Coverage outside the interpretation of “sovereign democracy” in the style of Russian ideologues revolves around the synonymous use of the terms sovereignty and democracy.

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