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Lecture 5

WGST 1808 Lecture 5: COMM 2601 SEPT 26.docx

Women's and Gender Studies
Course Code
WGST 1808
Virginia Caputo

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COMM 2601
Media Depictions in Society
September 26th, 2014
MIDTERM IS ON THE 10TH! It’s two hours long, will be in more detail next week
Jürgen Habermas ‘public sphere’
Charles Taylor’s ‘public (or common) spaces’
Media produced public spaces
Danah Boyd’s networked publics- more contemporary response to networked
communications and media?
From Reading
The power of self-determination
The capacity yo act
Acting of your own volition
Human agency
oIs there nonhuman agency? For animals? For Machines? For systems?
Not entertainment business
An entity that acts; that does something
Institutional actors, rational actors, individual actors (Government, Privacy
Often conceived as agential, as having agency
Some theorize certain technology as being agential
oHabermas: Critical space for deliberative democracy (Germany, democracy can
take route in many countries, and take route successfully)
oAs a space of/for communication central for publics to debate and share ideas
o‘Explore the status of public opinion in the practice of representative government
in western Europe’
More on Habermas:
German Scholar; part of Frankfurt school of social research
One of several scholars who assembled a neo-Marxist critique of western
Theorized the public sphere as a virtual or imaginary community
An ideal space of idealization of what public discourse ought to be
Conceptual notion about the possibility for a public sphere of deliberation,
debate, and conversation between various actors

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Public vs Private
Public means to all
A public event, action or speech
Publics: the collective or populace; citizens
Opposed to private
Occurrences or utterances (speech acts) can occur in public, through media,
government pronouncements, individual statements
E.G. Things you write on twitter are public
The public sphere is considered central to a health democracy
Statements, actions, and behavior can als--
Rise of the Public sphere
Habermas pointed to the rise of public interactions
Coffee houses and public gathering places (18th Cent)
Growth of the press (early forms of the newspaper)
Development of the printing press
Public discourse: these became part of the life in the 18th century
Civil society gathered to discuss issues of the day
Women and the illiterate poor were not allowed to participate
Things to think about (Public Sphere)
Habermas’ theory was conceptual
Civil society actors would be best positioned to ‘speak back’ to power, to
authority (Government)
Proposed a ‘rational;-critical discourse)
Highly circumscribed or procedural process of communication
Rules for participation. Inclusion, and access
In practice, public discourse or discussion is a messier affair
Three fora in public sphere
1. ‘Encounter public sphere  everyday, face-to-face communication that occurs
between citizens
2. Public events  town hall meetings, public lectures, or protest campaigns
(these have more impacts on publics) Engagement of question and answer
3. Media
a. Dominated by specialists: journalists, experts, and collective actors
b. Enabled through robust technical and organizational infrastructure
c. Can influence opinion; reach a wide audience
Public sphere should hold these goals and ideal
oExtent to access (ideally everyone has access)
oDegree of autonomy (citizens must be free of coercion) we are not pushed
into thinking one thing or another, we are supposed to connect to an idea.
We should be able to engage with the media and not be pushed to think
things that the media wants us to think
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