>BACK AT THE Public Sphere. After about two weeks of absence, I am back at the Public Sphere. But what exactly is it? Some may ask, is it a candy? a real sphere? something to do with the planet? Have I seen/touched/heard it before? And the answer is …
YOU ARE THE Public Sphere.All of us are part of it. YOU as the reader of my blog and YOU as a commenter below, YOU as a blogger, ME as a blogger, or even WE at a cafe discussing about football or the movie we watched, or the clothes of someone that just passed us. We are all sharing it and it is US, But what do the more educated sociologists have to say about it?
A WIKI ARTICLE that I am reading right now summarizes the PS as:
“The public sphere is an area in social life where people can get together and freely discuss and identify societal problems, and through that discussion influence political action.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_sphere – BTW wikipedia is a kind of public sphere knowledge, but with some moderation and edits … Making it an something like the best or correcter idea/information but not all of them together. But it is a nice website that helps the promotion of the public sphere by sharing ideas.
FOLLOWING … JURGEN HABERMAS … I believe that one of my professors is kind of “obsessed” with Habermas and his idea of the PS, and I think she passed that to me too … I like the idea and what it represents but mostly the online version of it that can become all-containing of the information, faster with everyone participating. But firstly, what Habermas supports his idea of Öffentlichkeit:
“The bourgeois public sphere may be conceived above all as the sphere of private people come together as a public;” (from wikipedia quoted from the book The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere – An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society)
That in simple language is the personal ideas, our individual thoughts summing up to create the whole!!! Interesting right?
HISTORICALLY, THE PS started emerging in Europe in about the 18th century, not just because of our (europeans) advancements but like ancient Greece … when you have most of the world under your boot working for you, then you can then have in mind philosophical and rhetorical forums for the cultural advancement. PS was created in its first form in the discussions about general topics at meeting places different for every country (such as at the agora in ancient Greece-Athens and later o the Roman forums/fora). This was destroyed with the rise of the capitalistic classes, that created a diversity that led to political control. But a major catalyst was the invention of the printing press giving some of the most educated people the ability to communicate their ideas, but also a kind of propaganda with asymmetric communication (one opinion was communicated to everyone but if you hadn’t got your own newspaper you couldn’t answer at the same degree as the first person).
AS THE WIKI article continues, Fraser and Benhabib argues with the Habermas public sphere, and I seem to agree with them, because as they mention, Habermas leaves out some of the discussion that affects some categories of population, such as women, children, elderly, thus excluding part of the population from the public … making the sphere partly public.
LEAVING BEHIND THE rhetorics and counter spheres of the article, only to arrive to my domain …
PUBLIC SPHERES 2.0 – The Web. In the article, the paragraphs as of July 28th … I would label them … “Under Construction”. A lot of research, forums and discussions need to be made at how we acknowledge the PS but with a nice question to answer by James Slevin:
“But how to respond to the multitude of responses they receive […] the various discussion forums […] often appear as a cacophony of dissident voices, obstructing rather than facilitating a process of unrestricted debate”
However, I must add, that the cacophony of voices is needed, because if we don’t listen the professor who has studied the subject for years, or the racist that will never change his mind, the politician who craves for votes, the simplest of workers, the middle, upper and lower class citizen, then we don’t have a public sphere but a private one of usually an elite … Only a few people will read all the comments in a post/article in the web, but they will be the ones that argue most about the subject will act most … t|hat is my opinion. I might not read 1000 comments, but some will do it for various reasons. The important part is to give everyone the opportunity to do so … Uncensored.
HOWEVER, PS IS all the individual spheres … meaning one person’s opinion … but in this case of everyones. It is created in the physical forums and public places, in the political sceneries of each country, the educational system, on the road or online! Next to be discussed … The online public sphere with more discussion of the blogosphere. It is a topic I already wrote about but needs more discussion and study. It is the new fora of the web … a forum for all the people to become members, making a flat world even flatter as time had meaning with space, but space has no meaning anymore and time is becoming less relevant and both synchronous and asynchronous making the public sphere accessible in so many different time/places the same time everywhere and anywhere!!!