Digital Public SphereLeila Bighash, Wei Wang & Bei Yan
Structure1. Habermas and Public Sphere2. The Net is a (more or less) Public Sphere3. The Net isn’t a Public Sphere5. Public Sphere and Civic Engagement4. How to conceptualize politics in digital age?
1. Habermas & Public Sphere(Froomkin, 2003)Ideal Speech Situation•Open access•Equal participation•Rational and knowledgeableparticipants•Active and interestedparticipants•Deliberative process basedon common good•Judgments based on strengthof argument, independent ofthe status of people whopropose it•Citizens open to changeviews after debate anddiscussionThe Practical Discourse•All voices in any way relevantget a hearing•The best arguments availableto us given our present state ofknowledge are brought to bear•Only the unforced force of thebetter argument determinesthe ‗yes‘ and ‗no‘ responses ofthe participants.‘(Justification,163)
Critiques• A descriptive model (Calhoun, 1992)• Male dominated & bourgeois (Fraser,1992)• Consensus is temporary (Mouffe, 1999),power and conflict is eternal (Foucault,1978)
2. The Net is a (more or less) Public SphereRevision of the notion of “public sphere” fora better fit into digital practicesDahlbeg Simone DalhgrenRadicalizedpublic sphere;agonistic publicsphere(Digital) PublicSphere as anetwork―alternativeand counterpublic sphere‖
Radicalized public sphere;agonistic public sphere• Deliberatively democratic model Features Criticized because…• Radicalized public sphere ―Discursive radicalism‖ ―inter-discursive contestation‖• An ―agonistic public sphere‖ – counterpublics Internet matters in the ―agonistic public sphere‖!• How to foster and expand this public sphere?
(Digital) Public Sphere as a Network• deliberative public sphere as a network participatory digital technologies contributes asit bridges ―enclave and shared nodes wheremultiple publics can engage in deliberation withinand across public boundaries‖ such as discussion boards, e-mail and text messages• policy making process openness, access, and freedom (Castells, 2001) Feasible? --- e.g. In China, you are totally fine if only focusing on promotingenvironmental protection issues, anti-discrimination activities which hardlyhave any impact on subverting the one-party regime. In contrast, someissues are still regarded as taboos and are too strictly censored to gain thevisibility in the public (Multiple tactics have been employed by Chinesenetizens to avoid censorship, but this is another story (Yang, 2009)) Click me@@ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=quaZi5sckwE
online public sphere as―alternative and counter public sphere‖• The Internet helps available spaces for alternative and subalternorganizations or individuals, facilitating―an impressive communicative heterogeneity‖ (p.152) the structural connections—formalized institutionalprocedures—between these communicative spacesand the processes of decision making• An inspiring view of contemporary political practices political apathy and disaffiliation? outside the parliamentary system the process of redefining just what constitutes the political, often within thecontext of social movements politics, cultural values, identity processes, and local self-reliance measuresare interwoven (Beck, 1997)• Civic Cultures citizens lived experiences, personal resources, and subjective dispositions
Dean PapacharissiNet as a ―zeroinstitution‖3. The Net isn’t a Public SpherePrivate sphere
• Inapplicable, and damaging topractices of democracy underconditions of contemporarytechnoculture in conditions of―communicative capitalism‖• The public sphere as an ideological construct- ideology critique• Net as a ―zero institution‖neodemocraciescontestation and conflictsNet as a ―zero institution‖
Two Paradigms• Public Sphere Neodemocracies• Site Nation Web as zero-institution• Goal Consensus (legitimation) Contestation• Means Procedures (legal, rational) Networked conflict• Norms Inclusivity Duration• Equality Hegemony• Transparency Decisiveness• Rationality Credibility• Vehicle Actors Issues
―Digital Public Sphere‖ – an old fashion?• Public and Private Arendt (1958); Habermas (1989); Thompson (2011) A dichotomized understanding to a contingent comprehension• Private Sphere (Papacharissi, 2010) a new paradigm to understand the democracy in this digital age: theprivate sphere, which contributes to a distinct way to participate indemocratic practices through the utilization of ―private mediaenvironment‖. Private citizens are engaged in politics in a manner of―autonomy, control, and self-expression‖.• New types of democracy and civic engagement ―Monitory Democracy‖ (Keane, 2009)
4. How to conceptualize politics in digital age?―cultural and media theorist working onnew media technologies, philosophy andcultural studies‖Gary Hall, 2008 What he doesnt think:Three theories of the Internet andPolitics 1) Liberal/Democratizing Approach 2) Renewed Public Sphere Approach 3) Gift Economy ApproachInternet is Good vs. Internet is Bad
What he does think:Need openness in developing new way ofthinking/theorizing about the Internet andpolitics Post-Hegemonic Era? ICTs are changing existence itselfPast theories are ―antipolitical‖ because theare stuck in the language of cultural criticismand don‘t allow for anything newGary Hall, 2008
Poster‘s Essay ―Cyberdemocracy: The Interneand the Public Sphere‖May need to rethink modern interpretationConsequences for three aspects of politics on theInternet 1) Technological Determinism 2) The Public Sphere 3) DemocracyHypercyberdemocracy: Going beyond Poster byquestioning the legitimacy and authority of allthings including academia and the selfGary Hall, 2008
1) Technological Determinism Internet is more than a tool ―No simple distinction between technologyand its users‖ (pp. 170) People cannot position themselvesoutside of technology to fully understandthe effects of that technologyHall, 2008
2) Public Sphere Internet challenges traditional notions of:1) Politics Problematic: concept of individual identity and what it meansto be a liberated political society2) Citizenship Problematic: the idea that there are/should be ―autonomousunified individuals with the right to criticize government andcontribute to the way society is run‖3) The Public Sphere Problematic: distinction between public & privateChallenges Habermas concept of the public sphere because―on the Internet the public and external space of technology isalways already a part of the private, internal space of humansubjectivity and even the body‖ (pp. 172, referencing Poster1997, 209)Hall, 2008
3) Democracy The Internet is a space that:allows decentralized dialogue, new formations forpolitical groupingscan reveal new power relations among people whocommunicatehighlights how technology is and always has beenpart of what it means to be human Habermass public sphere needs to be discarded andreplaced with a new form ―capable of representingnew subjectivities and collectivities‖ (pp. 175) Posters essay gives the opportunity to explore newmeanings of politics, and perhaps something otherthan democracy will emergeHall, 2008
5. Public Sphere and Civic EngagementQ: Will online political participation lead to politicalchange offline?
Shirky (2003)• Access to information is far less importantthan access to conversation• View new media as a long-term tool thatwill strengthen civil society and publicsphere and incrementally lead to politicalchange (the environmental view) ratherthan as a tool with immediate politicalimpact (the instrumental view)
Examples of deliberation online? McKenna (2007) – Policy Blogginghttp://www.theoildrum.com/ One Point in the Mission statement -Host a civil discussion: This website is a space where energyissues can be debated in a civil manner. Through theencouragement of evidence-based reasoning, logicalarguments and thought provoking exchange, we aim to hostdiscussions with a depth and breadth absent from the traditionalmedia or current political discourse. Guidelines for reading/commenting:http://www.theoildrum.com/special/guidelineshttp://sustainablog.org/ Brand new website - no longer at blogspot ―...sustainablog is now one of the longest-running greenblogs on the web.‖
Examples to explore President Obama AMA on Reddit -http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/z1c9z/i_am_barack_obama_president_of_the_united_states/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=feed Arab Spring Uprisings and the use of Twitter,Facebook, and YouTubeLewinski, M. & Mohammed, D. (2012) DeliberateDesign or Unintended Consequences: TheArgumentative Uses of Facebook During the ArabSpring. Journal of Public Deliberation, 8(1), 1-11. http://www.publicdeliberation.net/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1210&context=jpd Presidential Primary Debates and YouTube
President Obama AMAhttp://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/z1c9z/i_am_barack_obama_president_of_the_united_states/c60mnz9
Arab Spring Uprisings &Social Mediahttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lnPR90dJ3Gk