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Publicsphere
FromWikipedia,thefreeencyclopedia

Thepublicsphere(German:ffentlichkeit)isanareainsociallife
whereindividualscancometogethertofreelydiscussandidentify
societalproblems,andthroughthatdiscussioninfluencepoliticalaction.
CommunicationscholarGerardHauserhasdefineditas"adiscursive
spaceinwhichindividualsandgroupsassociatetodiscussmattersof
mutualinterestand,wherepossible,toreachacommonjudgmentabout
them."[1]Thepublicspherecanbeseenas"atheaterinmodernsocieties
inwhichpoliticalparticipationisenactedthroughthemediumoftalk"[2]
and"arealmofsociallifeinwhichpublicopinioncanbeformed".[3]
Describingtheemergenceofthepublicsphereinthe18thcentury,
Acoffeehousediscussion
JrgenHabermasnotedthatthepublicrealm,orsphere,originallywas
[4]
"coextensivewithpublicauthority", while"theprivatesphere
comprisedcivilsocietyinthenarrowersense,thatistosay,therealmofcommodityexchangeandofsocial
labor".[5]Whereasthe"sphereofpublicauthority"dealtwiththestate,orrealmofthepolice,andtheruling
class,[5]the"authentic'publicsphere' ",inapoliticalsense,aroseatthattimefromwithintheprivaterealm,
specifically,inconnectionwithliteraryactivities,theworldofletters.[6]Thisnewpublicspherespannedthe
publicandtheprivaterealms,and"throughthevehicleofpublicopinionitputthestateintouchwiththeneeds
ofsociety."[7]"Thisareaisconceptuallydistinctfromthestate:it[is]asitefortheproductionandcirculationof
discoursesthatcaninprinciplebecriticalofthestate."[8]Thepublicsphere'isalsodistinctfromtheofficial
economyitisnotanarenaofmarketrelationsbutratheroneofdiscursiverelations,atheaterfordebatingand
deliberatingratherthanforbuyingandselling."[8]Thesedistinctionsbetween"stateapparatuses,economic
markets,anddemocraticassociations...areessentialtodemocratictheory."[8]Thepeoplethemselvescameto
seethepublicsphereasaregulatoryinstitutionagainsttheauthorityofthestate.[9]Thestudyofthepublic
spherecentersontheideaofparticipatorydemocracy,andhowpublicopinionbecomespoliticalaction.
Thebasicidealbeliefinpublicspheretheoryisthatthegovernment'slawsandpoliciesshouldbesteeredbythe
publicsphere,andthattheonlylegitimategovernmentsarethosethatlistentothepublicsphere.[10]
"Democraticgovernancerestsonthecapacityofandopportunityforcitizenstoengageinenlightened
debate".[11]Muchofthedebateoverthepublicsphereinvolveswhatisthebasictheoreticalstructureofthe
publicsphere,howinformationisdeliberatedinthepublicsphere,andwhatinfluencethepublicspherehas
oversociety.

Contents
1
2
3
4
5

Definitions
JrgenHabermas:bourgeoispublicsphere
Counterpublics,feministcritiquesandexpansions
Rhetoricalpublicsphere
Media
5.1 Asactorsinthepoliticalpublicsphere
5.2 YouTubeasapublicsphere
5.3 Limitationsofmediaandtheinternet
5.4 Theinformationage
5.5 Thevirtualpublicsphere
5.6 Mediatedpublicness
5.7 Thepublicservicemodel
6 Nonliberaltheories
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6 Nonliberaltheories
6.1 Proletarianpublicspheres
6.2 Publicspheresofproduction
6.3 Biopoliticalpublic
7 Seealso
8 References
9 Externallinks

Definitions
Whatdoesitmeanthatsomethingis"public"?JrgenHabermassays,"Wecalleventsandoccasions'public'
whentheyareopentoall,incontrasttoclosedorexclusiveaffairs".[12]
Thisnotionofthepublicbecomesevidentintermssuchaspublichealth,publiceducation,publicopinionor
publicownership.Theyareopposedtothenotionsofprivatehealth,privateeducation,privateopinion,and
privateownership.Thenotionofthepublicisintrinsicallyconnectedtothenotionoftheprivate.
Habermas[13]stressesthatthenotionofthepublicisrelatedtothenotionofthecommon.ForHannah
Arendt,[14]thepublicsphereistherefore"thecommonworld"that"gathersustogetherandyetpreventsour
fallingovereachother".
Habermasdefinesthepublicsphereasa"societyengagedincriticalpublicdebate".[15]Conditionsofthepublic
sphereareaccordingtoHabermas:[16][17]
Theformationofpublicopinion
Allcitizenshaveaccess.
Conferenceinunrestrictedfashion(basedonthefreedomofassembly,thefreedomofassociation,the
freedomtoexpressionandpublicationofopinions)aboutmattersofgeneralinterest,whichimplies
freedomfromeconomicandpoliticalcontrol.
Debateoverthegeneralrulesgoverningrelations.

JrgenHabermas:bourgeoispublicsphere
MostcontemporaryconceptualizationsofthepublicspherearebasedontheideasexpressedinJrgen
Habermas'bookTheStructuralTransformationofthePublicSphereAnInquiryintoaCategoryofBourgeois
Society,whichisatranslationofhisHabilitationsschrift,Strukturwandelderffentlichkeit:Untersuchungenzu
einerKategoriederbrgerlichenGesellschaft.[18]TheGermantermffentlichkeit(publicsphere)encompasses
avarietyofmeaningsanditimpliesaspatialconcept,thesocialsitesorarenaswheremeaningsarearticulated,
distributed,andnegotiated,aswellasthecollectivebodyconstitutedby,andinthisprocess,"thepublic".[19]
Theworkisstillconsideredthefoundationofcontemporarypublicspheretheories,andmosttheoristsciteit
whendiscussingtheirowntheories.
Thebourgeoispublicspheremaybeconceivedaboveallasthesphereofprivatepeoplecome
togetherasapublictheysoonclaimedthepublicsphereregulatedfromaboveagainstthepublic
authoritiesthemselves,toengagetheminadebateoverthegeneralrulesgoverningrelationsinthe
basicallyprivatizedbutpubliclyrelevantsphereofcommodityexchangeandsociallabor.[20]
Throughthiswork,hegaveahistoricalsociologicalaccountofthecreation,briefflourishing,anddemiseofa
"bourgeois"publicspherebasedonrationalcriticaldebateanddiscussion:[21]Habermasstipulatesthat,dueto
specifichistoricalcircumstances,anewcivicsocietyemergedintheeighteenthcentury.Drivenbyaneedfor
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opencommercialarenaswherenewsandmattersofcommonconcerncouldbefreelyexchangedanddiscussed
accompaniedbygrowingratesofliteracy,accessibilitytoliterature,andanewkindofcriticaljournalisma
separatedomainfromrulingauthoritiesstartedtoevolveacrossEurope."Initsclashwiththearcaneand
bureaucraticpracticesoftheabsolutiststate,theemergentbourgeoisiegraduallyreplacedapublicspherein
whichtherulerspowerwasmerelyrepresentedbeforethepeoplewithasphereinwhichstateauthoritywas
publiclymonitoredthroughinformedandcriticaldiscoursebythepeople".[22]
Inhishistoricalanalysis,Habermaspointsoutthreesocalled"institutionalcriteria"aspreconditionsforthe
emergenceofthenewpublicsphere.Thediscursivearenas,suchasBritainscoffeehouses,Francessalonsand
GermanysTischgesellschaften"mayhavedifferedinthesizeandcompositionsoftheirpublics,thestyleof
theirproceedings,theclimateoftheirdebates,andtheirtopicalorientations",but"theyallorganizeddiscussion
amongpeoplethattendedtobeongoinghencetheyhadanumberofinstitutionalcriteriaincommon":[23]
1.Disregardofstatus:Preservationof"akindofsocialintercoursethat,farfrompresupposingthe
equalityofstatus,disregardedstatusaltogether.[...]Notthatthisideaofthepublicwasactuallyrealized
inearnestinthecoffeehouses,salons,andthesocietiesbutasanideaithadbecomeinstitutionalized
andtherebystatedasanobjectiveclaim.Ifnotrealized,itwasatleastconsequential."(loc.cit.)
2.Domainofcommonconcern:"...discussionwithinsuchapublicpresupposedtheproblematizationof
areasthatuntilthenhadnotbeenquestioned.Thedomainofcommonconcernwhichwastheobjectof
publiccriticalattentionremainedapreserveinwhichchurchandstateauthoritieshadthemonopolyof
interpretation.[...]Theprivatepeopleforwhomtheculturalproductbecameavailableasacommodity
profaneditinasmuchastheyhadtodetermineitsmeaningontheirown(bywayofrational
communicationwithoneanother),verbalizeit,andthusstateexplicitlywhatpreciselyinitsimplicitness
forsolongcouldassertitsauthority."(loc.cit.)
3.Inclusivity:Howeverexclusivethepublicmightbeinanygiveninstance,itcouldnevercloseitselfoff
entirelyandbecomeconsolidatedasacliqueforitalwaysunderstoodandfounditselfimmersedwithin
amoreinclusivepublicofallprivatepeople,personswhoinsofarastheywerepropertiedandeducated
asreaders,listeners,andspectatorscouldavailthemselvesviathemarketoftheobjectsthatwere
subjecttodiscussion.Theissuesdiscussedbecamegeneralnotmerelyintheirsignificance,butalsoin
theiraccessibility:everyonehadtobeabletoparticipate.[...]Whereverthepublicestablisheditself
institutionallyasastablegroupofdiscussants,itdidnotequateitselfwiththepublicbutatmostclaimed
toactasitsmouthpiece,initsname,perhapsevenasitseducatorthenewformofbourgeois
representation"(loc.cit.).
Habermasarguedthatthebourgeoissocietycultivatedandupheldthesecriteria.Thepublicspherewaswell
establishedinvariouslocationsincludingcoffeeshopsandsalons,areasofsocietywherevariouspeoplecould
gatheranddiscussmattersthatconcernedthem.ThecoffeehousesinLondonsocietyatthistimebecamethe
centersofartandliterarycriticism,whichgraduallywidenedtoincludeeventheeconomicandthepolitical
disputesasmattersofdiscussion.InFrenchsalons,asHabermassays,"opinionbecameemancipatedfromthe
bondsofeconomicdependence".Anynewwork,orabookoramusicalcompositionhadtogetitslegitimacy
intheseplaces.Itnotonlypavedaforumforselfexpression,butinfacthadbecomeaplatformforairingones
opinionsandagendasforpublicdiscussion.
Theemergenceofbourgeoispublicspherewasparticularlysupportedbythe18thcenturyliberaldemocracy
makingresourcesavailabletothisnewpoliticalclasstoestablishanetworkofinstitutionslikepublishing
enterprises,newspapersanddiscussionforums,andthedemocraticpresswasamaintooltoexecutethis.The
keyfeatureofthispublicspherewasitsseparationfromthepowerofboththechurchandthegovernmentdue
toitsaccesstoavarietyofresources,botheconomicandsocial.
AsHabermasargues,induecourse,thissphereofrationalanduniversalisticpolitics,freefromboththe
economyandtheState,wasdestroyedbythesameforcesthatinitiallyestablishedit.Thiscollapsewasdueto
theconsumeristicdrivethatinfiltratedsociety,socitizensbecamemoreconcernedaboutconsumptionthan
politicalactions.Furthermore,thegrowthofcapitalisticeconomyledtoanunevendistributionofwealth,thus
wideningeconomicpolarity.Suddenlythemediabecameatoolofpoliticalforcesandamediumforadvertising

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ratherthanthemediumfromwhichthepublicgottheirinformationon
politicalmatters.Thisresultedinlimitingaccesstothepublicsphere
andthepoliticalcontrolofthepublicspherewasinevitableforthe
moderncapitalisticforcestooperateandthriveinthecompetitive
economy.

ParliamentaryactionunderCharles
VIIofFrance

Therewithemergedanewsortofinfluence,i.e.,media
power,which,usedforpurposesofmanipulation,onceand
foralltookcareoftheinnocenceoftheprincipleof
publicity.Thepublicsphere,simultaneouslyprestructured
anddominatedbythemassmedia,developedintoanarena
infiltratedbypowerinwhich,bymeansoftopicselection
andtopicalcontributions,abattleisfoughtnotonlyover
influencebutoverthecontrolofcommunicationflowsthat
affectbehaviorwhiletheirstrategicintentionsarekept
hiddenasmuchaspossible.[24]

Counterpublics,feministcritiquesandexpansions
AlthoughStructuralTransformationwas(andis)oneofthemostinfluentialworksincontemporaryGerman
philosophyandpoliticalscience,ittook27yearsuntilanEnglishversionappearedonthemarketin1989.
BasedonaconferenceontheoccasionoftheEnglishtranslation,atwhichHabermashimselfattended,Craig
Calhoun(1992)editedHabermasandthePublicSphere[25][26]athoroughdissectionofHabermas'bourgeois
publicspherebyscholarsfromvariousacademicdisciplines.Thecorecriticismattheconferencewasdirected
towardstheabovestated"institutionalcriteria":
1.Hegemonicdominanceandexclusion:InRethinkingthePublicSphere,NancyFraseroffersafeminist
revisionofHabermas'historicaldescriptionofthepublicsphere,andconfrontsitwith"recentrevisionist
historiography".[27]Shereferstootherscholars,likeJoanLandes,MaryP.RyanandGeoffEley,when
shearguesthatthebourgeoispublicspherewasinfactconstitutedbya"numberofsignificant
exclusions."IncontrasttoHabermasassertionsondisregardofstatusandinclusivity,Fraserclaimsthat
thebourgeoispublicspherediscriminatedagainstwomenandotherhistoricallymarginalizedgroups:"...
thisnetworkofclubsandassociationsphilanthropic,civic,professional,andculturalwasanything
butaccessibletoeveryone.Onthecontrary,itwasthearena,thetraininggroundandeventuallythe
powerbaseofastratumofbourgeoismenwhowerecomingtoseethemselvesasauniversalclassand
preparingtoasserttheirfitnesstogovern."Thus,shestipulatesahegemonictendencyofthemale
bourgeoispublicsphere,whichdominatedatthecostofalternativepublics(forexamplebygender,
socialstatus,ethnicityandpropertyownership),therebyavertingothergroupsfromarticulatingtheir
particularconcerns.
2.Bracketingofinequalities:Frasermakesusrecallthat"thebourgeoisconceptionofthepublicsphere
requiresbracketinginequalitiesofstatus".The"publicspherewastobeanarenainwhichinterlocutors
wouldsetasidesuchcharacteristicsasdifferenceinbirthandfortuneandspeaktooneanotherasifthey
weresocialandeconomicpeers".FraserreferstofeministresearchbyJaneMansbridge,whichnotes
severalrelevant"waysinwhichdeliberationcanserveasamaskfordomination".Consequently,she
arguesthat"suchbracketingusuallyworkstotheadvantageofdominantgroupsinsocietyandtothe
disadvantageofsubordinates."Thus,sheconcludes:"Inmostcasesitwouldmoreappropriateto
unbracketinequalitiesinthesenseofexplicitlythematizingthemapointthataccordswiththespiritof
Habermas'latercommunicativeethics".
3.Theproblematicdefinitionof"commonconcern":NancyFraserpointsoutthat"therearenonaturally
given,aprioriboundaries"betweenmattersthataregenerallyconceivedasprivate,andoneswetypically
labelaspublic(i.e.of"commonconcern").Asanexample,shereferstothehistoricshiftinthegeneral
conceptionofdomesticviolence,frompreviouslybeingamatterofprimarilyprivateconcern,tonow
generallybeingacceptedasacommonone:"Eventually,aftersustaineddiscursivecontestationwe
succeededinmakingitacommonconcern".
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NancyFraseridentifiedthefactthatmarginalizedgroupsareexcluded
fromauniversalpublicsphere,andthusitwasimpossibletoclaimthatone
groupwouldinfactbeinclusive.However,sheclaimedthatmarginalized
groupsformedtheirownpublicspheres,andtermedthisconcepta
subalterncounterpublicorcounterpublics.
FraserworkedfromHabermas'basictheorybecauseshesawittobe"an
indispensableresource"butquestionedtheactualstructureandattempted
toaddressherconcerns.[8]Shemadetheobservationthat"Habermasstops
shortofdevelopinganew,postbourgeoismodelofthepublicsphere".[28]
FraserattemptedtoevaluateHabermas'bourgeoispublicsphere,discuss
someassumptionswithinhismodel,andofferamodernconceptionofthe
publicsphere.[28]
Inthehistoricalreevaluationofthebourgeoispublicsphere,Fraserargues
thatratherthanopeningupthepoliticalrealmtoeveryone,thebourgeois
ASocietyofPatrioticLadiesat
publicsphereshiftedpoliticalpowerfrom"arepressivemodeof
EdentoninNorthCarolina,
dominationtoahegemonicone".[29]Ratherthanrulebypower,therewas
satiricaldrawingofawomen's
nowrulebythemajorityideology.Todealwiththishegemonic
counterpublicinactioninthe
domination,Fraserarguesthatrepressedgroupsform"Subaltern
1775teaboycott
counterpublics"thatare"paralleldiscursivearenaswheremembersof
subordinatedsocialgroupsinventandcirculatecounterdiscoursesto
formulateoppositionalinterpretationsoftheiridentities,interests,andneeds".[30]
BenhabibnotesthatinHabermas'ideaofthepublicsphere,thedistinctionbetweenpublicandprivateissues
separatesissuesthatnormallyaffectwomen(issuesof"reproduction,nurtureandcarefortheyoung,thesick,
andtheelderly")[31]intotheprivaterealmandoutofthediscussioninthepublicsphere.Shearguesthatifthe
publicsphereistobeopentoanydiscussionthataffectsthepopulation,therecannotbedistinctionsbetween
"whatis"and"whatisnot"discussed.[32]Benhabibarguesforfeministstocounterthepopularpublicdiscourse
intheirowncounterpublic.
Thepublicspherewaslongregardedasmen'sdomainwhereaswomenweresupposedtoinhabittheprivate
domesticsphere.[33][34][35]Adistinctideologythatprescribedseparatespheresforwomenandmenemerged
duringtheindustrialrevolution.[36][37]
Theconceptofheteronormativityisusedtodescribethewayinwhichthosewhofalloutsideofthebasic
male/femaledichotomyofgenderorwhosesexualorientationsareotherthanheterosexualcannotmeaningfully
claimtheiridentities,causingadisconnectbetweentheirpublicselvesandtheirprivateselves.MichaelWarner
madetheobservationthattheideaofaninclusivepublicspheremakestheassumptionthatweareallthesame
withoutjudgmentsaboutourfellows.Hearguesthatwemustachievesomesortofdisembodiedstateinorder
toparticipateinauniversalpublicspherewithoutbeingjudged.Hisobservationspointtoahomosexual
counterpublic,andofferstheideathathomosexualsmustotherwiseremain"closeted"inordertoparticipatein
thelargerpublicdiscourse.[38]

Rhetoricalpublicsphere
GerardHauserproposedadifferentdirectionforthepublicspherethanpreviousmodels.Heforegroundsthe
rhetoricalnatureofpublicspheres,suggestingthatpublicspheresformaround"theongoingdialogueonpublic
issues"ratherthantheidentityofthegroupengagedinthediscourse.[40]

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Ratherthanarguingforanallinclusivepublicsphere,ortheanalysisof
tensionbetweenpublicspheres,hesuggestedthatpublicswereformed
byactivemembersofsocietyaroundissues.[41]Theyareagroupof
interestedindividualswhoengageinvernaculardiscourseabouta
specificissue.[42]"Publicsmayberepressed,distorted,orresponsible,
butanyevaluationoftheiractualstaterequiresthatweinspectthe
rhetoricalenvironmentaswellastherhetoricalactoutofwhichthey
evolved,forthesearetheconditionsthatconstitutetheirindividual
character".[43]Thesepeopleformedrhetoricalpublicspheresthatwere
basedindiscourse,notnecessarilyorderlydiscoursebutany
interactionswherebytheinterestedpublicengageseachother.[42]This
interactioncantaketheformofinstitutionalactorsaswellasthebasic
"streetrhetoric"that"open[s]adialoguebetweencompeting
DemonstrationagainstFrenchnuclear
[39]
factions." Thespheresthemselvesformedaroundtheissuesthatwere
testsin1995inParis"This
beingdeliberated.Thediscussionitselfwouldreproduceitselfacross
interactioncantaketheformof...
thespectrumofinterestedpublics"eventhoughwelackpersonal
basic"streetrhetoric"that"open[s]a
acquaintancewithallbutafewofitsparticipantsandareseldomin
dialoguebetweencompeting
contextswhereweandtheydirectlyinteract,wejointheseexchanges
factions."[39]
[44]
becausetheyarediscussingthesamematters." Inorderto
communicatewithinthepublicsphere,"thosewhoenteranygiven
arenamustshareareferenceworldfortheirdiscoursetoproduceawarenessforsharedinterestsandpublic
opinionsaboutthem".[45]Thisworldconsistsofcommonmeaningsandculturalnormsfromwhichinteraction
cantakeplace.[46]
Therhetoricalpublicspherehasseveralprimaryfeatures:
1.itisdiscoursebased,ratherthanclassbased.
2.thecriticalnormsarederivedfromactualdiscursivepractices.Takinga
universalreasonablenessoutofthepicture,argumentsarejudgedby
howwelltheyresonatewiththepopulationthatisdiscussingtheissue.
3.intermediatebracketingofdiscursiveexchanges.Ratherthana
conversationthatgoesonacrossapopulationasawhole,thepublic
sphereiscomposedofmanyintermediatedialogsthatmergelateronin
thediscussion.[47]
Therhetoricalpublicspherewascharacterizedbyfiverhetoricalnorms
fromwhichitcanbegaugedandcriticized.Howwellthepublicsphere
adherestothesenormsdeterminetheeffectivenessofthepublicsphere
undertherhetoricalmodel.Thosenormsare:
1.permeableboundaries:Althoughapublicspheremayhaveaspecific
PoliticalGraffitiontheSouthBank
membershipaswithanysocialmovementordeliberativeassembly,
peopleoutsidethegroupcanparticipateinthediscussion.
oftheThamesinLondon2005,"even
thoughwelackpersonalacquaintance 2.activity:Publicsareactiveratherthanpassive.Theydonotjusthearthe
issueandapplaud,butrathertheyactivelyengagetheissueandthe
withallbutafewofitsparticipants
publicssurroundingtheissue.
andareseldomincontextswherewe
3.contextualizedlanguage:Theyrequirethatparticipantsadheretothe
andtheydirectlyinteract,wejoin
rhetoricalnormofcontextualizedlanguagetorendertheirrespective
theseexchangesbecausetheyare

experiencesintelligibletooneanother.
4.believableappearance:Thepublicspheremustappeartobebelievable
toeachotherandtheoutsidepublic.
5.tolerance:Inordertomaintainavibrantdiscourse,othersopinionsneedtobeallowedtoenterwithinthe
arena.[48]

discussingthesamematters."[44]

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InallthisHauserbelievesapublicsphereisa"discursivespaceinwhichstrangersdiscussissuestheyperceive
tobeofconsequenceforthemandtheirgroup.Itsrhetoricalexchangesarethebasesforsharedawarenessof
commonissues,sharedinterests,tendenciesofextentandstrengthofdifferenceandagreement,andself
constitutionasapublicwhoseopinionsbearontheorganizationofsociety."[44]
Thisconceptthatthepublicsphereactsasamediuminwhichpublicopinionisformedasanalogoustoalava
lamp.Justasthelamp'sstructurechanges,withitslavaseparatingandformingnewshapes,sodoesthepublic
sphere'screationofopportunitiesfordiscoursetoaddresspublicopinion,therebyformingnewdiscussionsof
rhetoric.Thelavaofthepublicwhichholdstogetherthepublicargumentsisthepublicconversation.

Media
Habermasarguesthatthepublicsphererequires"specificmeansfortransmittinginformationandinfluencing
thosewhoreceiveit".[17]
Habermas'argumentshowsthatthemediaareofparticularimportanceforconstitutingandmaintaininga
publicsphere.Discussionsaboutthemediahavethereforebeenofparticularimportanceinpublicsphere
theory.

Asactorsinthepoliticalpublicsphere
AccordingtoJrgenHabermas,therearetwotypesofactorswithoutwhomnopoliticalpublicspherecouldbe
puttowork:professionalsinthemediasystemandpoliticians.[49]ForHabermas,therearefivetypesofactors
whomaketheirappearanceonthevirtualstageofanestablishedpublicsphere:
(a)Lobbyistswhorepresentspecialinterestgroups
(b)Advocateswhoeitherrepresentgeneralinterestgroupsorsubstituteforalackofrepresentation
ofmarginalizedgroupsthatareunabletovoicetheirinterestseffectively
(c)Expertswhoarecreditedwithprofessionalorscientificknowledgeinsomespecializedarea
andareinvitedtogiveadvice
(d)Moralentrepreneurswhogeneratepublicattentionforsupposedlyneglectedissues
(e)Intellectualswhohavegained,unlikeadvocatesormoralentrepreneurs,aperceivedpersonal
reputationinsomefield(e.g.,aswritersoracademics)andwhoengage,unlikeexpertsand
lobbyists,spontaneouslyinpublicdiscoursewiththedeclaredintentionofpromotinggeneral
interests.[50]

YouTubeasapublicsphere
AstudybyS.Edgerlyetal.[51]focusedontheabilityofYouTubetoserveasanonlinepublicsphere.The
researchersexaminedalargesampleofvideocommentsusingtheCaliforniaProposition8(2008)asan
example.Theauthorsarguethatsomescholarsthinktheonlinepublicsphereisaspacewhereawiderangeof
voicescanbeexpressedduetothe"lowbarrierofentry"[52]andinteractivity.However,theyalsopointata
numberoflimitations.Edgerlyetal.saythattheaffirmativediscoursepresupposesthatYouTubecanbean
influentialplayerinthepoliticalprocessandthatitcanserveasaninfluentialforcetopoliticallymobilize
youngpeople.TheauthorsmentioncritiquesthatsayYouTubeisbuiltaroundthepopularityofvideoswith
sensationalistcontent.TheresearchbyEdgerly,etal.[53]foundthattheanalysedYouTubecommentswere
diverse.TheyarguethatthisisapossibleindicatorthatYouTubeprovidesspaceforpublicdiscussion.They

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alsofoundthatYouTubevideos'styleinfluencethenatureofthecommentary.Finally,theyconcludedthatthe
video'sideologicalstancesinfluencedthelanguageofthecomments.Thefindingsoftheworksuggestthat
YouTubeisapublicsphereplatform.

Limitationsofmediaandtheinternet
Some,likeColinSparks,notethatanewglobalpublicsphereoughttobecreatedinthewakeofincreasing
globalizationandglobalinstitutions,whichoperateatthesupranationallevel.[54]However,thekeyquestions
forhimwere,whetheranymediaexistsintermsofsizeandaccesstofulfilthisrole.Thetraditionalmedia,he
notes,areclosetothepublicsphereinthistruesense.Nevertheless,limitationsareimposedbythemarketand
concentrationofownership.Atpresent,theglobalmediafailtoconstitutethebasisofapublicsphereforat
leastthreereasons.Similarly,henotesthattheinternet,forallitspotential,doesnotmeetthecriteriafora
publicsphereandthatunlesstheseare"overcome,therewillbenosignofaglobalpublicsphere".[55]
GermanscholarsJrgenGerhardsandMikeS.Schferconductedastudyin2009inordertoestablishwhether
theInternetoffersabetterandbroadercommunicationenvironmentcomparedtoqualitynewspapers.They
analysedhowtheissueofhumangenomeresearchwasportrayedbetween1999and2001inpopularquality
newspapersinbothGermanyandtheUnitedStatesincomparisontothewayitappearedonsearchenginesat
thetimeoftheirresearch.Theirintentionwastoanalysewhatactorsandwhatsortofopinionsthesubject
generatedinbothprintandtheInternetandverifywhethertheonlinespaceprovedtobeamoredemocratic
publicsphere,withawiderrangeofsourcesandviews.GerhardsandSchfersaytheyhavefound"only
minimalevidencetosupporttheideathattheinternetisabettercommunicationspaceascomparedtoprint
media".[56]"Inbothmedia,communicationisdominatedby(bioandnatural)scientificactorspopular
inclusiondoesnotoccur".[56]Thescholarsarguethatthesearchalgorithmsselectthesourcesofinformation
basedonthepopularityoftheirlinks."Theirgatekeeping,incontrasttotheoldmassmedia,reliesmainlyon
technicalcharacteristicsofwebsites".[56]ForGerhardsandSchfertheInternetisnotanalternativepublic
spherebecauselessprominentvoicesendupbeingsilencedbythesearchengines'algorithms."Searchengines
mightactuallysilencesocietaldebatebygivingmorespacetoestablishedactorsandinstitutions".[57]

Theinformationage
JrgenHabermasmentionsin'FurtherReflectionsonthePublicSphere'abouttheinformationage:
"Manyofthefeaturesofour'InformationAge'makeusresemblethemostprimitiveofsocialand
politicalforms:thehuntingandgatheringsociety.Asnomadicpeoples,huntersandgatherershave
noloyalrelationshiptoterritory.They,too,havelittlesenseofplacespecificactivitiesarenot
totallyfixedtoaspecificphysicalsettings.Thelackofboundariesbothinhuntingandgathering
andinelectronicsocietiesleadstomanystrikingparallels.Ofallknownsocialtypesbeforeour
own,huntingandgatheringsocietieshavetendedtobethemostegalitarianintermsoftherolesof
malesandfemales,childrenandothers,andleadersandfollowers."[58]

Thevirtualpublicsphere
Therehasbeenanacademicdebateabouthowsocialmediaimpactsthepublicsphere.ThesociologistsBrian
LoaderandDanMerceagiveanoverviewofthisdiscussion:[59]Theyarguethatsocialmediaoffersincreasing
opportunitiesforpoliticalcommunicationandenabledemocraticcapacitiesforpoliticaldiscussionwithinthe
virtualpublicsphere.Theeffectwouldbethatcitizenscouldchallengegovernmentsandcorporations'political
andeconomicpower.Additionally,newformsofpoliticalparticipationandinformationsourcesfortheusers
emergewiththeInternetthatcanbeused,forexample,inonlinecampaigns.However,thetwoauthorspoint
outthatsocialmedia'sdominantusesareentertainment,consumerism,andcontentsharingamongfriends.
LoaderandMerceapointoutthat"individualpreferencesrevealanunequalspreadofsocialtieswithafew
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giantnodessuchasGoogle,Yahoo,FacebookandYouTubeattractingthemajorityofusers".[60]Theyalso
stressthatsomecriticshavevoicedtheconcernthatthereisalackofseriousnessinpoliticalcommunicationon
socialmediaplatforms.Moreover,linesbetweenprofessionalmediacoverageandusergeneratedcontent
wouldbluronsocialmedia.
Theauthorsconcludethatsocialmediaprovidesnewopportunitiesforpoliticalparticipation,howeverthey
warnusersofriskstoaccessunreliablesources.TheInternetimpactsthevirtualpublicsphereinmanyways
butisnotafreeutopianplatformassomeobserversarguedatthebeginningofitshistory.

Mediatedpublicness
JohnThompsoncriticisesthetraditionalideaofpublicspherebyHabermas,asitiscentredmainlyinfaceto
faceinteractions.Onthecontrary,Thompsonarguesthatmodernsocietyischaracterizedbyanewformof
"mediatedpublicness",[61]whosemaincharacteristicsare:
Despatialized(thereisaruptureoftime/space.Peoplecanseemorethings,astheydonotneedtoshare
thesamephysicallocation,butthisextendedvisionalwayshasanangle,whichpeopledonothave
controlover).
Nondialogical(unidirectional.Forexample,presentersonTVarenotabletoadapttheirdiscoursetothe
reactionsoftheaudience,sincetheyarevisibletoawideaudiencebutthataudienceisnotdirectly
visibletothem.However,internetallowsabiggerinteractivity).
Widerandmorediverseaudiences.(Thesamemessagecanreachpeoplewithdifferenteducation,
differentsocialclass,differentvaluesandbeliefs,andsoon.)
Thismediatedpublicnesshasalteredthepowerrelationsinawayinwhichnotonlythemanyarevisibletothe
fewbutthefewcanalsonowseethemany:
"WhereasthePanopticonrendersmanypeoplevisibletoafewandenablespowertobeexercised
overthemanybysubjectingthemtoastateofpermanentvisibility,thedevelopmentof
communicationmediaprovidesameansbywhichmanypeoplecangatherinformationaboutafew
and,atthesametime,afewcanappearbeforemanythankstothemedia,itisprimarilythosewho
exercisepower,ratherthanthoseoverwhompowerisexercised,whoaresubjectedtoacertain
kindofvisibility".[62]
However,Thompsonalsoacknowledgesthat"mediaandvisibilityisadoublededgedsword"[63]meaningthat
eventhoughtheycanbeusedtoshowanimprovedimage(bymanagingthevisibility),individualsarenotin
fullcontroloftheirselfpresentation.Mistakes,gaffesorscandalsarenowrecordedthereforetheyareharderto
deny,astheycanbereplayedbythemedia.

Thepublicservicemodel
ExamplesofthepublicservicemodelincludeBBCinBritain,andtheABCandSBSinAustralia.Thepolitical
functionandeffectofmodesofpubliccommunicationhastraditionallycontinuedwiththedichotomybetween
HegelianStateandcivilsociety.Thedominanttheoryofthismodeincludetheliberaltheoryofthefreepress.
However,thepublicservice,stateregulatedmodel,whetherpubliclyorprivatelyfunded,hasalwaysbeenseen
notasapositivegoodbutasanunfortunatenecessityimposedbythetechnicallimitationsoffrequency
scarcity.
AccordingtoHabermas'sconceptofthepublicsphere,[64]thestrengthofthisconceptisthatitidentifiesand
stressestheimportancefordemocraticpoliticsofaspheredistinctfromtheeconomyandtheState.Onthe
otherhand,thisconceptchallengestheliberalfreepresstraditionformthegroundsofitsmateriality,andit
challengestheMarxistcritiqueofthattraditionfromthegroundsofthespecificityofpoliticsaswell.
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FromGarnham'scritique,[65]threegreatvirtuesofHabermas'spublicspherearementioned.Firstly,itfocuses
ontheindissolublelikebetweentheinstitutionsandpracticesofmasspubliccommunicationandthe
institutionsandpracticesofdemocraticpolitics.ThesecondvirtueofHabermas'sapproachconcentrateonthe
necessarymaterialresourcebaseforantpublic.Itsthirdvirtueistoescapefromthesimpledichotomyoffree
marketversusstatecontrolthatdominatessomuchthinkingaboutmediapolicy.

Nonliberaltheories
OskarNegt&AlexanderKlugetookanonliberalviewofpublicspheres,andarguedthatHabermas'
reflectionsonthebourgeoispublicsphereshouldbesupplementedwithreflectionsontheproletarianpublic
spheresandthepublicspheresofproduction.[19]

Proletarianpublicspheres
Thedistinctionbetweenbourgeoisandproletarianpublicspheresisnotmainlyadistinctionbetweenclasses.
Theproletarianpublicsphereisrathertobeconceivedofasthe"excluded",vague,unarticulatedimpulsesof
resistanceorresentment.Theproletarianpublicspherecarriesthesubjectivefeelings,theegocentricmalaise
withthecommonpublicnarrative,intereststhatarenotsociallyvalorized
"Asextraeconomicinterests,theyexistpreciselyintheforbiddenzonesoffantasybeneaththesurface
oftaboosasstereotypesofaproletariancontextoflivingthatisorganizedinamerelyrudimentary
form."[66]
Thebourgeoisandproletarianpublicspheresaremutuallydefining:Theproletarianpublicspherecarriesthe
"leftovers"fromthebourgeoispublicsphere,whilethebourgeoispublicisbasedupontheproductiveforcesof
theunderlyingresentment:
"Inthisrespect,they"[i.e.theproletarianpublicspheres]"havetwocharacteristics:intheirdefensive
attitudetowardsociety,theirconservatism,andtheirsubculturalcharacter,theyareonceagainmere
objectsbuttheyare,atthesametime,theblockofreallifethatgoesagainstthevalorizationinterest.As
longascapitalisdependentonlivinglaborasasourceofwealth,thiselementoftheproletariancontext
oflivingcannotbeextinguishedthroughrepression."[66]

Publicspheresofproduction
NegtandKlugefurthermorepointoutthenecessityofconsideringathirddimensionofthepublicspheres:The
publicspheresofproduction.Thepublicspheresofproductioncollecttheimpulsesofresentmentand
instrumentalizesthemintheproductivespheres.Thepublicspheresofproductionarewhollyinstrumentaland
havenocriticalimpulse(unlikethebourgeoisandproletarianspheres).Theintereststhatareincorporatedin
thepublicsphereofproductionaregivencapitalistshape,andquestionsoftheirlegitimityarethus
neutralized.[67]

Biopoliticalpublic
Bytheendofthe20thcenturythediscussionsaboutpublicspheresgotanewbiopoliticaltwist.Traditionally
thepublicsphereshadbeencontemplatedastohowfreeagentstransgresstheprivatespheres.MichaelHardt
andAntonioNegrihave,drawingonthelateMichelFoucault'swritingsonbiopolitics,suggestedthatwe
reconsidertheverydistinctionbetweenpublicandprivatespheres.[68]Theyarguethatthetraditionaldistinction
isfoundedonacertain(capitalist)accountofpropertythatpresupposeclearcutseparationsbetweeninterests.
Thisaccountofpropertyis(accordingtoHardtandNegri)baseduponascarcityeconomy.Thescarcity
economyischaracterizedbyanimpossibilityofsharingthegoods.If"agentA"eatsthebread,"agentB"
cannothaveit.Theinterestsofagentsarethus,generally,clearlyseparated.
However,withtheevolvingshiftintheeconomytowardsaninformationalmateriality,inwhichvalueisbased
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upontheinformationalsignificance,orthenarrativessurroundingtheproducts,theclearcutsubjective
separationisnolongerobvious.HardtandNegriseetheopensourceapproachesasexamplesofnewwaysof
cooperationthatillustratehoweconomicvalueisnotfoundeduponexclusivepossession,butratherupon
collectivepotentialities.[69]Informationalmaterialityischaracterizedbygainingvalueonlythroughbeing
shared.HardtandNegrithussuggestthatthecommonsbecomethefocalpointofanalysesofpublicrelations.
Thepointbeingthatwiththisshiftitbecomespossibletoanalysehowtheverydistinctionsbetweentheprivate
andpublicareevolving.[70]

Seealso
Argumentationtheory
Commons
Interpersonalrelationship
Onlinedeliberation
Protest
Publicplace
Publichypersphere
Respublica
Ruleaccordingtohigherlaw
RichardSennett
TheLivesofOthersAfilmthatdescribesthemonitoringoftheculturalsceneofEastBerlinbyagents
oftheStasiduringtheColdWar

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women'shistory",TheHistoricalJournal,CambridgeUniversityPress,36(2):383414,
doi:10.1017/S0018246X9300001X
34.Ttreault,MaryAnn(2001),"FrontierPolitics:Sex,Gender,andtheDeconstructionofthePublicSphere",
Alternatives:Global,Local,Political,SAGEPublications,26(1):5372
35.May,AnnMari(2008),"Gender,biology,andtheincontrovertiblelogicofchoice",The'womanquestion'andhigher
education:perspectivesongenderandknowledgeproductioninAmerica,Cheltenham,UKNorthampton,MA:
EdwardElgarPublishing,p.39,ISBN9781847204011
36.Wells,Christopher(2009),"SeparateSpheres",inKowaleskiWallace,Elizabeth,Encyclopediaoffeministliterary
theory,London,NewYork:Routledge,p.519,ISBN9780415998024
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encyclopediaofsociology,Chichester,WestSussex,U.K.Malden,MA:WileyBlackwell,pp.15657,ISBN9781
405183536
38.Warner,Michael(1992),"TheMassPublicandtheMassSubject",inCalhoun,Craig,HabermasandthePublic
Sphere,CambridgeMass.:MITpress,pp.377401,ISBN0262531143.Warner,Michael.2002.Publicsand
Counterpublics.NewYork:ZoneBooks.
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Dimension?TheImpactofNormativeTheoryonEmpiricalResearch1CommunicationTheory16(4):411426.,
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Externallinks
PublicSphereGuide(http://publicsphere.ssrc.org/guide/),aresearchandteachingguide,andresourcefor
therenewalofthePublicSphere
TransformationsofthePublicSphere(http://publicsphere.ssrc.org/)EssayForum
JrgenHabermas,"ThePublicSphere:AnEncyclopediaArticle,"NewGermanCritique3(1974)(http
s://web.archive.org/web/20070328063523/http://www.mtsu.edu/~dryfe/SyllabusMaterials/Classreadings/
habermas.pdf)
SparksummaryofHabermas'publicspherebook(http://www.sparknotes.com/philosophy/public/)
Retrievedfrom"https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Public_sphere&oldid=748744948"
Categories: Criticaltheory Publicopinion Democracy Sociologicalterminology Publicsphere
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apply.Byusingthissite,youagreetotheTermsofUseandPrivacyPolicy.Wikipediaisaregistered
trademarkoftheWikimediaFoundation,Inc.,anonprofitorganization.
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