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Lecture 3

CMN 3109 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Civil Society, Secularism, Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International


Department
Communication
Course Code
CMN 3109
Professor
Dina Salha
Lecture
3

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Lecture 3
What is a School of Thought?
Other critical schools of thought view the media as channels of distraction
from real social issues, only promoting consumption of commodities and
capitalist ideologies. (The Frankfurt School).
!The idea of the American dream
Under critical theories, some view the role of the media as tools to expand
the public sphere and public debate. (Habermas)
CRITICAL THEORY
Some pointers
!Radical change in theory and practice can cure the ills of modern
society (according to the Frankfurt School)
!Critical theory unmasks the ideologies and false ideals perpetuates
(continues) for the benefit of one group over another.
!Critical theory is reflective and inherently self aware.
!Critical questions power relations.
!Critical theory reflects on the social context that gave rise to it as
well on its function and purposes and so forth.
o!It emerges under conditions that are not of our making
Critical
Power relations
Self-reflective
Self-aware of its context
Critical
!Critical theory should be critical.
!The task of the theory is to be practical, not just theoretical.
o!Habermas added that it has to be practical.
!Critical theory manifests correct understanding of a situation,
context, phenomenon, etc…
!Also, it should create social and political conditions more conducive
(beneficial) to the flourishing of individuals.
!Diagnostic and remedial:
o!a) identify the wrongs in society
o!b) identify progressive aspects that help the amelioration
(improvement) of society.
!Habermas: deep concerns for individual freedom because:

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o!A) individual freedom is embedded in the fate of democratic
institutions.
o!B) and in the renewal of democratic politics
!For Habermas individual freedom is needed in democratic society
!According to Habermas individual rights should come first.
!Critical theory identifies what kind of institutions are needed for the
protection of individuals from political and ideological extremism,
including capitalism.
HABERMAS AND THE PUBLIC SPHERE
Habermas
!Habermas came from German family – Nazi inclinations
!Became aware of the horrifying events of Nazi Germany and
became very critical.
!Studied philosophy.
!Interested in Heidegger but became critical as well of Heidegger’s
lack of sorrow and his unwillingness to break with the past.
!1954 – Dissertation on the philosopher F. Schelling.
!Became the RA of Adorno at the Institute of Social Research at
Frankfurt.
!Influenced by Adorno and Horkheimer and Marxism.
!1958 University of Marburg
!Prof. of Philosphy at Heidelberg
!1964 Prof. of Philosophy and Sociology at the University of
Frankfurt.
!1971 – 1983 Director of the Max Planck Institute
The Public Sphere
!The term was introduced in 1962
!According to Habermas, the public sphere is the sphere of
private individuals assembled in a public for the “public use
of reason.”
!The existence of the public sphere is co-existent with the existence
of modernity.
!According the Habermas newspapers served as public sphere at one
particular time
!Simple comparison of pre-modern and modern societies – F.
Tonnies
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Pre-modern
Modern
Traditional (Geminschaft)
Belief in divine
transcendence (God, higher
power)
Modern (Gesellschaft)
Belief in reason
Village, peasants, agriculture
Small society in size
City, proletariat,
industrialization
Local exchange
Artisanal production
National and international
exchange
Mass production
Demographic dispersion
Folkloric culture – culture
that celebrates the past
Common culture and
community
Mass dispersion
Mass culture – technologies
of contact
Interest groups
Generality of roles
Specialized roles
Binding ties
Contractual ties
Group mentality and
common knowledge
Anonymity and individualism
o!The transition happened by revolting the source that defined
who becomes the king.
o!Divine transcendence was the source of all values and culture
Traditional vs. Modern
!Characteristics in traditional societies that are recurrent in all pre-
modern societies: strong hierarchy, social fixity, enormous social
stability, and essentialism.
!“Change” is a key feature in modern society.
!If divinity ceases from existence as sources of social norms and
individual behavior, where should the rules come from then?
o!A) Law of the strongest
o!B) Debate
!!According to Habermas it’s the source of democratic
society
DEBATE
!Participation: each gives opinion, consent to follow norms, each has
to propose own norms, etc…
!Modern societies provided the organisms that have the function to
create the conditions that allow for mutual consent.
!Historically, the public sphere emerged in the moment when the
monarchy and church power started to become weak.
!The new power in face of religion is the bourgeois public.
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