Lecture 5 **

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Wilfrid Laurier University
Communication Studies
Penelope Ironstone- Catterall

October 26 th The Public Sphere – The Critical Theory of Jurgen Habermas - 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 - The place where we can see how it is we have come to naturalize democracy is in the history of the public sphere - We must situate historically the origins of some of the basic assumptions we make about ourselves and our political system - The shifts in the ways in which we organize ourselves economically includes a move away from feudalism toward an economic system that is more democratized - The middle class start to become franchised and have concerns about the way things are organized – they are both limited and educated, intent on educating themselves about the issues of the day - People recognize themselves as private agents – agents in their own right, recognize they are masters of their own realm (the intimate/private sphere) and begin to demand their own rights of a new economic and therefore political order, and autonomy from the State and the Church - The public sphere emerges when private people come together to form a public; through talking, debating, demanding access to information (publicity) - Habermas refers to publicity as the making public of ideas - The public sphere is formed out of particular interest in order to influence political changes, organizational changes, etc. - In the development of the public sphere is the development of ideas of: o Liberty – freedom of choice, expression, to gather together, to debate, liberty to engage in ideas and participate in democratic systems o Equality – equal rights relative to the political system o Fraternity – recognition of common concerns - these ideas are built on certain assumptions about who we are, what the system is that we are engaging with, and what our rights and responsibilities are within it - presumes the idea of the individual who is able to freely and critically think and argue - liberal democracy - the citizen/bourgeois subject has the following characteristics: o the ability to own property o more educated than previous times, no longer illiterate, no longer reliant upon the king, prince, clergy, etc. to explain the world to them o independent, can think independently o not a subject that will not be necessarily coerced o a person who is able to fully able to exercise critical thinking - not everyone had access to a public life and therefore did not get to be a participant in political and economic public life - in the 17 and 18 centuries, those not included would be women, therefore Habermas is idealized a masculine subject citizen - liberal democracy is founded on certain principles – the bourgeois public sphere o “the bourgeois public sphere may be conceived above all as the sphere of private people come together as a public; they soon claimed the public sphere regulated from above against the public authorities themselves, to engage them in a debate over the October 26 th general rules governing relations in the basically privatized but publically relevant sphere of commodity exchange and social labour” o The quote means that the people who have come together must be persuaded to accept the governing rules otherwise they will reject in Ideal Speech Situation - Habermas develops rules for an ideal speech situation to occur t
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