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Lecture 16

CMN 3109 Lecture Notes - Lecture 16: Mark Poster

Course Code
CMN 3109
Dina Salha

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Lecture 16
From Public Sphere to Civic Culture
JKNew hope for the public sphere on the internet.
However, skeptical analysis have concluded that the internet is just another
extension of corporate powers.
Ideas on the internet’s ability to contribute to a more vibrant public sphere
have been mostly developed from theoretical reflections.
Reading off the effects of the internet by analyzing aspects of its form.
Mark Poster
!The internet taking us to a second media age in which we can
expect the development of a new kind of public sphere,
postmodern in character and hardly recognizable by modern
James Slevin
!Internet as recreating the dialogic character of the public sphere
o!A character that has been marginalized by one-way media
such as newspapers, TV and radio.
Oscar Gandy
!The real digital divide
o!the divide between citizens and consumers that threatens to
undermine all hopes about a more vibrant public sphere.
Studies on the internet
!There are numerous studies conducted on the users of the internet,
not least focusing on everyday practices and perception of among
various groups.
o!Largely statistical studies
o!Rarely framed by theories of the public sphere
!Lack of qualitative studies paying attention to the use and
perception of the internet, analyzing it from the point of view of
theories of the public sphere.
The research project (based in Sweden)
!Target internet users: 16-19 years old, active citizens
!2 studies:
o!1) 20 young, active citizens affiliated with the political parties’
youth organizations
o!2) 30 young, active citizens affiliated with various alternative,
extra-parliamentarian political movements

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!Both studies rely on data from in-depth interviews with the
o!On their use and perception of media in general and the
internet in particular
Civic cultures: resources for the public sphere
!Why and how people actually participate in the public sphere.
!What factors contribute to people acting as citizens?
!Civic culture perspective: a way to conceptualize the factors that
can promote or impede (block) participation in the public sphere.
o!As a concept traditionally builds upon a set of rights and
obligations, historically evolved in society, and
underscores universalism and equality.
o!An object of contemporary social theory
o!Civic agency requires that one can see oneself as a citizen,
that this social category be a part of one’s sense of self –
even if the actual word ‘citizen’ may not be a part of the
o!Sense of belonging to – and perceived possibilities for
participating in – societal development.
!Such identities need to be culturally embedded in the mind sets,
practical activities, and symbolic milieu of everyday life.
!Thus, we use the concept of civic cultures to refer to these
resources upon which citizens – individually and collectively – draw
to facilitate their participation.
!Civic cultures can be seen as prerequisites for engagement in the
public sphere.
o!Without access to some viable version of civic cultures, people
will not be participating.
o!Via their participation in public sphere, citizens in turn
strengthen public sphere.
!Civic cultures are empowering
!They are also vulnerable
o!They can easily be affected by political and economic power.
!It is the media’s relevance for civic cultures that is central.
!Civic cultures: 5 parameters of mutual reciprocity (exchange)
o!1. Values
!!must have their anchoring in everyday life
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