Public Sphere in the 19 th Century• Matters of public concern became exclusive to „experts‟ – the authority.• The common citizen was cut out from public decision-making• New technologies brought discussion of the mobilising power of this bourgeoise.• The electric telegraph (1837); telephone (1876); radio (1895) was invented• However, these mediums were not broadcasting in a many-to-many fashion, more like one to many. The public opinion was therefore moulded and directed by whatever these mediums broadcasted.
• Radio and television had a frequency bandwidth limit, so different producers would broadcast at the same wavelengths and the signals would interfere with each other• Shirky: “we have greatly overestimated the value of access to information and underestimated the value of access to each other” - Public lacked ability and will to own and interact with their chosen media• Theorist Manuel Castells writes “How the public sphere is constituted and how it operates largely defines the structure and dynamics of any given polity” (2008).
The Public Sphere and the• Internet Enter The Internet - not confined within a frequency bandwidth but by an arbitrary addressing system.• Therefore, can provide a many-to-many medium which is accessible to all citizens so that they can discuss matters of public concern in an unrestricted environment “with guarantee of freedom of assembly and association and the freedom to express and publish their opinions” (Habermas, 1964)• Digital media as an aggregation tool whereby consumers can personalize news from a wider range of online publishers. Eg/ Facebook, Youtube, Twitter• Advantage: Has Freedom of choice and immediate access• Growth of self publishers has helped with development of individual preferences and the evolution of „news delivery‟ on a large scale• The power of millions, articulating different journalistic choices affects the publishing industry, and with this growth of content choice, new mediums of distribution choice have rebounded.
The Public Sphere and the Internet (Cont.)• With the introduction of the Internet, the reality of owning the medium becomes closer to being a possibility.• The Internet – gives the user control for low costs with Internet subscription fee, a computer and the necessary softwares.• With these tools, we are able to broadcast ourselves, the Internet has allowed us the ability to undermine the specific anti- democratic forces within our society: CAPITALISM.• Capitalism enables organisations to reach forward and control its market, manage its behaviour and shape the social attitude of those it serves.
The Public Sphere and the Internet (Cont.)• However! We are beginning to see anti –capitalistic behaviour emerge throughout the Internet…• http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBkuiChImb8
The Public Sphere and the Internet (Cont.)• Through the Internet, people are using more creative ways to add to the public sphere…• Eg/ Blogging, online commenting, forums and Online audio broadcasting and all your other social networking sites• Other advancements include…
The Public Sphere and the Internet (Cont.)• There has been scholarly speculations on the possibility of the internet being privatised.• However, the medium no longer belongs exclusively to corporations…• If a popular website is purchased by a large cooperation (Eg/ Paywalls), and begins to restrict its users from activity, users can look for alternative websites to obtain the same resource or start their own website.
Public Sphere and the Internet• The most adaptable and most basic part of the public sphere we have is conversation, this allows every participating member to voice their own ideas and listen to others.• Even though the media are on a much larger scale than in a conversation, they are not nearly as intricate.• The Internet combines the intricacy of the conversation with the scale of the media, in relay chat, and also offers other opinions to be evaluated and relied onto on forums.
Conclusion• While immediately, not everyone has access to the Internet to distribute their own content, we are still seeing the closest example to Habermas‟s public sphere, through the media.
Question Time• Do you think the public sphere will be achieved in the future? Why?• Is the Internet a better public sphere?
Reference• Gordon, J. 2004, Does the Internet provide the basis for a public sphere that approximates to Habermas vision?• Calhoun, C. (ed.) (1992) Habermas and the Public Sphere. Cambridge, MA:MIT Press• Blinkx.com, viewed 8/4/2012<blinkx.com>• Visual Bloke, Keep Talking The Power of Social Networks, viewed 7/4/2012 <Keep Talking The Power of Social Networks>