CS206 WEEK 1 9/13/2012 3:07:00 PM
Main theorist of the public sphere: Jurgen Habermas
an area of social life where individuals/groups come together to
identify and discuss society’s problems.
A space in which political participation is enacted through talk.
A realm of social life in which public opinion is formed.
A space of discourse which is often critical of the state
A theater of debating
Focuses on ideas of participatory democracy and how public opinion
becomes political action through democratic processes
Study how information is deliberated in the public sphere & what
influence the public sphere has on society.
Growing rates of literacy- more people are reading and
Accessibility to literature
New kind of critical journalism
o Due to these 3 things emerging across Europe, this increased
public communication & the public sphere
1) disregard of social status- people treated equal
2) domain of common concern- issues of criteria that hadn’t been
3) inclusivity- everyone had to be able to participate (British
coffeehouses, French salons, etc.- places where people to discussed
issues, which opened up questioning to economy and politics. This
led to a new political class).
Signified separation of the church and the state. Power of church started
Bourgeois public sphere was separated from the sphere of the church and
It was soon destroyed by the media, which became a tool of political
forces and amedium for advertising, rather than being a medium for the
public to get their information on political issues.
This led to uneven distribution of wealth, which limited access to the
public sphere. Public sphere turned into something infiltrated by power, which selected
what you discuss- control of communication.
Continues to accelerate with neo-liberal economic policies- media has lots
of corporate influence- results in shrinking public sphere.
Criticism of Public Sphere Theory:
Fraser: the Bourgeoius public sphere discriminated against women and
lower social classes and was anything but accessible to anyone. Other
clubs were formed to counter these ones.
Benhabib: imposes private/public split. Issues pushed out of public realm.
The public sphere did not achknowledge the spheres in which women
operate, but these are political issues.
Warner: Others argue this split is heteronormative- others that can’t
operate can’t publicly claim their identities. This causes disconnect
between public and private selves.
Hauser: public spheres are formed around dialogue/rhetoric concerning
specific issues, not the identity of the population debating them.
Warner: public is a space of discourse organized by nothing other than
discourse itself. Talks about the distinction of the public and a public. He
talks about a third kind of public that only relates to texts and their
Characteristics of a Public:
o It is self-organized- never just exists
o It is a relation amongst strangers- strangerhood is a
necessary medium of commonality
o The address of public speech is both personal/impersonal
Economic theory of market functionalism- primacy of the market. Its
been a disaster for many countries.
Emphasizes the efficienct of private enterprise, liberalized trade, open
markets to promote globalization.
Maximizes role of private sector in determining political and
economic priorities in the world.
Ended in 2008, started in 1980s Belief in primacy of marketplace, transfer of public services into private
secto, financial deregulation
Puts profits before people and results in growing gap with rich and
Crisis of inequality of democracy.
Democracy: the right to vote.
Purest form of democracy: all citizens have an equal say in decisions,
which affect their lives.
Comes from the Greek word “rule of people”.
Liberal democracy- equality, civil liberty, human rights
Democracy not only seen as a political system, but an ideal- right to
choose your own representation.
Almost all of this has disappeared with neoliberalism, which is now
governed by the corporate and the rich.
The increasing privatization of public services means social issues are
privatized. Notions of public good and community have been privatized
with this over-idealized notion of freedon, ownership and individual
Result: core public values like moral values have diminished. The public
sphere is decreasing- instead of places for debate and discussion, there is
We change our current culture through education. CS206 WEEK 4 9/13/2012 3:07:00 PM
Critique of neoliberalism. The Quebec student movement critiques
neoliberalism. It is more about tuition costs, but it is also about debt.
Neoliberalism: economic philosophy that promote the increase in
privatization, in determining the economic priorities of the world.
The role of government is to just let the markets run the world.
In addition to the growing gap between rich and poor, there is a focus on
what has been lost in neoliberalism, which is a loss of public values and
participation in public democracy and civic responsibility. Everything has
become about the individual.
We see neoliberalism in how mass media operates in the interest of
profits, appeasing the elites, rather than providing the public with
information so that we can make informed decisions.
Corporate mass media distorts our perceptions of truth.
Governments and corporations tend to undermine democracy, instead of
making public opinion possible.
Edward Bernays: Not whether public opinion is managed, but how it
should be managed and by whom? The engineering of consent is the very
essence of the democratic process, the freedom to persuade and suggest.
PR employs over 200,000 employees in the USA.
Public relations industry is owned by the advertising industry, whose
mission is to influence public opinion.
Everyone uses PR & it doesn’t have to be about spin.
By justifying propaganda as a practice essential to a democratic society,
ethics and community are introduced into PR.
Bernays: PR is the practice of social responsibility.
PR is a communication activity that participates in community for better
or for worse.
Gutstein pointed out that prime ministers and presidents are hired, not
The problem is when public relations is allowed to remain hidden and civic
problems are therefore hidden.
Example: cigarettes being advertised as making women not hungry, and
making them lose weight.
Ingrid Sole expresses cause marketing is all that is wrong with
neoliberalism by viewing social problems as marketing opportunities. People don’t want the government interfering in their lives, and
neoliberalism promotes dependings businesses to improve their lives,
when it is really the government’s role.
Corporate philanthropy further marginializes the government’s role of
WEEK 5 9/13/2012 3:07:00 PM
Edward Bernays: inventor of public relations.
Says we need propaganda in democracy.
Modern mass media society is linked to the perfection of propaganda.
Corporations, governments and churches are able to effectively persuade
people through propaganda.
Gutstein sees WWI as a necessity for institutions with vested power to
justify and package those interests as a common good- propaganda in
Mobilize public support
Provide public with ampel info about the war
Had to keep messaging straight
Creel was a journalist and newspaper publisher.
Many pamphlets were circulated with propaganda