To analyse three British mainstream news online comment forums in their capacity to host an online public sphere. The online comment forums are drawn from the BBC's World Have Your Say service, The Daily Mail's RightMinds and the Guardian's Comment is Free. The units of analysis are the comments posted within the three forums.
To employ two forms of analysis: first a content analysis to identify the number of comments that comply with three of Dahlberg's online public sphere theory criteria: autonomy from state and commercial interests, discursive inclusion and equality and exchange and critique. Second, a sociological discourse analysis drawing on Bakhtin's notions of utterance, speech genres and heteroglossia to analyse interactions between contributors.