An analysis of a free press and democratic public sphere

Definitions[ edit ] What does it mean that something is "public"?

An analysis of a free press and democratic public sphere

In spite of its foreign origin, the term public sphere actually represented an attempt to more adequately articulate those aspects of Anglo-American liberal culture associated with the formation of public opinion and popular sovereignty.

Hence the term is meant to imply not merely the intellectual exchange present in the notion of a "marketplace of ideas" but also the embodied process of forming otherwise private people into a public via various means of communication. Yet the term connotes not simply the physically existing public but rather the radically democratic openness implicit in public discourse.

An analysis of a free press and democratic public sphere

The ambiguity inherent in the term public sphere enables it to encompass both the rationality implied by open discourse and the sovereignty associated with an actual public. The public sphere is neither merely the public nor simply the conditions of equality and universal access that permit the free exchange of ideas; it also encompasses the actual process through which private individuals come together to form public opinion.

The notion that individuals are "private" is meant to indicate that rank or status should have no standing in the formation of public opinion. What makes an opinion "public" is not merely the accident of its popularity but also its accessibility and ability to withstand public scrutiny.

The process through which private individuals come together as a public in the generation of public opinion involves achieving a critical distance from rank, status, or mere popularity in the assessment of opinion—in practice oftentimes accomplished through the private consumption of commodities pamphlets, books, or programs produced for the public market.

Controversies Habermas's formulation of the concept of the public sphere was intended from the beginning to be controversial.

Jürgen Habermas and the Public Sphere

The concept was conceived as a reproach to positivist social science and more specifically to the notion that scientific polling represented the last word in researching public opinion.

Habermas sought through his conceptualization of the public sphere to reintroduce notions of reason and rational discourse into discussions of public opinion, in contrast to the pollster's practice of collecting unreflective responses.

This approach has become an accepted criticism of public opinion pollseven while it has not appreciably lessened the reliance of marketing experts upon polls.

This lack of impact can be attributed in part to a difference in aims between polling practitioners, who are simply looking for a current snapshot of public opinion, and social theorists, who seek to explain the differences between more or less legitimate examples of public opinion. An important feature of Habermas's analysis was his claim that the public sphere did not represent a timeless aspect of society.

Rather, the bourgeois public sphere had a history: The "liberal model" of the public sphere was to be sharply distinguished from the ancient publics of the Greek poleis, societies where the private realm was one of necessity and the public characterized by rhetorical competition for glory—not unlike an oral "Olympics" Arendt.

The feudal "representative public-ness" that preceded the liberal model was characterized by Habermas as a form of publicness that one encounters in a medieval court—publicness as a form of display, not as a subject of dispute. The "mediatized public" that followed the decline of the liberal model can likewise be understood as a form of mediated display, with the public as an audience reading, listening, watching—but in essence consuming—the mass media performance, whether it be in the form of print, radio, or television.

The bourgeois family, which propagated an ideology of the family as a voluntary, loving community supportive of individual development, "raised bourgeois ideology above ideology itself" Habermas,p. The transference of the attitudes fostered within the private sphere to topics of public concern—first literary, then political—resulted in the rise of a critical public sphere.

The subsequent collapse, beginning in the latter half of the nineteenth century, of the distinction between public and private—the "structural transformation" of Habermas's title—exposed the fictive unity of the experience of humanity central to bourgeois ideology, thereby undermining the critical function of the public sphere.

The notion of "collapse" is meant to indicate the intervention of the state into what, under the liberal model of society, were previously considered "private" matters, for example, with regard to economic regulation and social programs, as well as the adoption of quasi-public powers—through the consolidation of market power—by powerful trusts and corporations.

Notions of public and private did not disappear, but they changed. They no longer denoted completely independent spheres, one—the public—of coercion, and the other—the private—of mutual exchange.

The "collapse" is not meant to imply the complete dissolution of the concepts of public and private, but rather the blurring of previous boundaries as regards appropriate spheres of action, as manifest by the exercise of public power by private interests and concern over what were previously considered private economic circumstances on the part of the state.

A Deliberative Model of Democracy, 1st Edition

For example, the privacy of the family has become subject to regulation by child welfare services, and corporations have come to employ market power as a means of dictating public policy. In a similar manner, the German suffix keit that follows lich can be thought of as analogous to "ness" in English, transforming the adjective into a noun that signifies the quality manifest in the adjective.

As in the previous cases, the German suffix keit transformed the adjective form into a noun, but a noun with a different meaning from the original root term brotherliness vs.

Unfortunately the English term publicity —which at first glance would seem the best noun form for translating "the quality of openness or being public"—is burdened by negative connotations through association with the advertising industry. The term public sphere avoids both the negativity of the term publicity and the narrow concreteness implied by "audience" which in any case corresponds to Publikum.

Public Sphere

By encompassing both the quality of "public-ness" "publicity" in the positive sense and "the public," the term public sphere also focuses attention on the nature and necessity of the relationship between the private consumption of the audience and the public market for production or performance publicity.

The existence of such a relationship is essential for the development of a critical public sphere. The dependence of this model of the public sphere upon the development of bourgeois civil society and in particular the bourgeois family was controversial.

Although Habermas was well aware of the ideological nature of the rhetoric concerning the bourgeois family, his explanation of how the false synthesis of the abstract rights of citoyen the citizen and the economic necessities of homme man, or the economic individual "transcended" the temporal circumstances of bourgeois society by means of the concept of humanity left many unconvinced.

An analysis of a free press and democratic public sphere

Although Negt and Kluge essentially adopted many of the premises behind the bourgeois public sphere for example with regard to origins, history, and genderthey did question the idealization of the bourgeois public sphere as the only public sphere.

According to Negt and Kluge, these exclusions were rendered ideologically invisible by the very abstract principles of universality that previously had been idealized. Hence the growth of exclusions from public debate that Habermas depicted in the "refeudalization" of the bourgeois public sphere did not mark a departure from the underlying principles but rather an extension of their application.

Rather than a singular, unified public sphere, there had always existed a variety of counter public spheres, each rooted in the experiences that as a whole make up the "context of living" Lebenszusammenhang of various individuals.

Feminist scholars also found the bourgeois model's dependence upon a rigid division between public and private questionable. They held that the bourgeois model uncritically reproduced the very same emphasis upon the "intimate sphere as schoolhouse" that had been placed upon it during the eighteenth century by those who sought to disseminate an ideal of femininity that restricted women's activities to the rearing of male citizens, thereby gendering the public as "masculine" and the private as "feminine.

The central role gender biases played in the maintenance of the bourgeois "masculinist" public sphere was further confirmed by the connection between its collapse and the collapse of the public-private distinction—a circumstance that Habermas would later term the "colonization of the life-world.

Habermas has not been deaf to criticism and has creatively incorporated much of it into his later formulations concerning the public sphere.The public sphere thus presupposed freedoms of speech and assembly, a free press, and the right to freely participate in political debate and decision-making.

After the democratic revolutions, Habermas suggested, the bourgeois public sphere was institutionalized in. The notion of the public sphere is discussed, and measures allowing an assessment of its democratic character are proposed.

A formula for estimating entropy is developed and applied to data obtained from the case study of an ongoing discussion.

An analysis of a free press and democratic public sphere

The public sphere thus presupposed freedoms of speech and assembly, a free press, and the right to freely participate in political debate and decision-making. After the democratic revolutions, Habermas suggested, the bourgeois public sphere was institutionalized in.

The mass media, democracy and the public sphere analysis’ democratic, however implausible it may seem, must involve the implication that in from political tyranny: a government legitimated through consent depends on a free press (Keane, ; Koss, ).

However, this mediation is not neutral but affects how political. The mass media, democracy and the public sphere analysis’ democratic, however implausible it may seem, must involve the implication that in from political tyranny: a government legitimated through consent depends on a free press (Keane, ; Koss, ).

However, this mediation is not neutral but affects how political. The emergence of a bourgeois public sphere was particularly supported by the 18th-century liberal democracy making resources available to this new political class to establish a network of institutions like publishing enterprises, newspapers and discussion forums, and .

Public sphere - Wikipedia