THE CRITICAL THEORY OF JURGEN HABERMAS IN SOCIOLOGICAL RESEARCH EU House, Bratislava, Slovakia 8-9 November 2012----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------You say "Yes", I say "No“: Applying Habermas’ notion of basic validity claims to capture, disaggregate and measure the “opinion” of Internet discussions(on the Russian-language LiveJornal blogging platform) YURI MISNIKOV, PHD Independent scholar firstname.lastname@example.org
- You say "Yes", I say "No".You say "Stop" and I say "Go, go, go".Oh no.You say "Goodbye" and I say "Hello, hello, hello".I dont know why you say "Goodbye", I say "Hello,hello, hello".I say "High", you say "Low".You say "Why?" And I say "I dont know".Oh no.You say "Goodbye" and I say "Hello, hello, hello". THE BEATLES - HELLO GOODBYE SONG By LENNON/ MCCARTNEY
Theoretical Framework - from New media, Computer- Deliberative, discourse- mediated centred concept ofCommunications, online democracy, emancipatory deliberations (public potential of the discussions on the pluraliustic public sphere Internet)
Theoretical Framework - to New media, Computer- Deliberative, discourse- mediated centred concept ofCommunications, online democracy, emancipatory deliberations (public potential of the pluralistic discussions on the public sphere Internet)
Theoretical Framework• Similarities between the emergence of the Habermasian public sphere and the virtual public space – Audience-oriented privateness ‘...when bourgeois private people formed themselves into a public and therewith became the carriers of a new type of public sphere’ with a ‘emancipatory potential’ (Habermas and the Public Sphere, p. 426-7) – Pluralization of the public sphere as a condition of its very emergence (plebeian, proletarian, counter public spheres) due to the ‘exclusion of the culturally and politically mobilized lower strata’
Theoretical Framework‘I must confess, however, that only after readingMikhail Bakhtin’s great book Rabelais and His Worldhave my eyes become open to the inner dynamicsof a plebeian culture . The culture of the commonpeople apparently was by no means only abackdrop, that is, a passive echo of the dominantculture; it was also the periodically recurring violentrevolt of a counterpproject to the hierarchical worldof domination, with its official celebration andeveryday disciplines’ (Habermas and the PublicSphere, p.427).
Theoretical Framework‘The public sphere can best be described as a network for communicating information and points of view (i.e., opinions expressing affirmative or negative attitudes); the streams of communication are, in the process, filtered and synthesized in such a way that they coalesce into bundles of topically specified public opinions. Like the lifeworld as a whole, so, too, the public sphere is reproduced through communicative action; it is tailored to the general comprehensibility of everyday communicative practice’ (Between Facts and Norms/BFN, 360).
Theoretical FrameworkPublic sphere as linguistically constituted space of communication actors who generate intersubjective solidarities as a result of their ‘cooperatively negotiated interpretations’ by ‘taking positions on mutual speech act offers and assuming illocutionary obligations’ (BFN, pp. 361-2), i.e. through issuing affirmative or negative statements.Discourse participants mutually grant each other communicative freedom to say “Yes” and “No”, i.e. to claim certain “truths”.
Analytical FrameworkWhat are Validity Claims?• Reciprocal and discursive instruments to realise (a rational) communicative act• Carriers of indirect, intended meaning beyond language• Aimed at reaching understanding with ‘someone with regard to something’
Analytical FrameworkWhat is the act of claim making• Demonstration of certain reason• Transmission of intentional meaning• Articulation of a position
Analytical FrameworkWhat is the act of claim validation• Subsequent communicative action• Linguistic, logical exercise and also moral and ethical act• Representation of a certain worldview• Not all claims are recognised and validated
Analytical Framework: Types of validity claims Background knowledge Claims to Objective propositional Claims to truth Claims to Subjective Shared personal normative truthfulness rightnessSincerity /Civility Social solidarity Aesthetic harmony
Empirical FrameworkResearch objectives• To test the hypotheses that – Validity claims to normative rightness can be used to assess the quality of public debate online – Validity claims to normative rightness can be used to measure the prevailing opinion of discussants and thus disclose issue-based solidarities formed by them – Articulation of disagreements is the main content of the validation act
Empirical FrameworkDemonstration case:• http://nytimesinmoscow.livejournal.com/224 5.html• Analysis method: content analysis• Sample for analyzing deliberative quality: 189 posts• Sample for analyzing the scope of public opinion: 100 posts
Empirical Framework:Logic of claim development STEP 4: Formulate claim to normative rightness STEP 2:Problematize STEP 5: an issue Validate STEP 3: Qualify a others claims problem, express via an attitude agreement/ disagreement STEP 1: Select theme/topic
Empirical Framework: Coding example• Coding format: «VC-55//3-3-1=The article is untruthful (Статья неправдивая); VC-56//3-3-1=America should better deal with its democracy (Америке лучше заниматься своей демократией)» – VC-55 – validity claim number 55; there can be more than one claim in the same post – 3-3-1 – 1st post (last digit) of author number 3 (middle digit), which was the 3rd post in a row among all participants – “America should better deal with its democracy” – problematised issue which belongs to a broader topic of Russia- America relations; its intended meaning is to dismiss the paper’s opinion of the state of democracy in Russia as unimportant, a ground for further agreement or disagreement with this statement, expressed in the form of For and Against, in the spirit of Habermasian positive and negative attitudes
Empirical Framework: Stats• 189 posts made by 59 participants• 10% of posts were uncivil• 70% of all posts contained claims to normative rightness• 179 claims were made (unique and repeated)• 147 claims were validated – discussion was dialogic• 76% (112) were unique validation acts (the same claim can be validated more than once by a number of participants)• 2/3 claims validated via disagreement
Empirical Framework: Example of Yes/No claim making & validation Claim making Claim making (justification, Claim validation (of (justification, correction of Claim validation (ofClaim making (VC- VC-38) correction of previous claims & VC-39, VC-41, VC-42) 38) previous claims & via articulation of new via articulation of new claims VC-39, VC-41, claims VC-40, VC-43) VC-42) VC-41: Putin did not commit major mistakes agreement VC-42: Beslan and Kursk are VC-43: Beslan and Kursk are insignificant disagreement not insignificantVC-38: There will be no Black Tuesday again VC-39: There wil be a new VC-40: Putin is leading Russia disagreement Black Tuesday agreement to catastrophe
Empirical Framework: The atom of collective position formation via For/Yes and Against/No
Empirical Framework: Distribution of discursively articulated positions “Yes/For” by discussion themes Positions FOR (validated claims, sample size 100 post, NYT-LJ discussion Russias military policy 20% Putins policy 26% Americas Russiandemocracy & governmentspolicies 24% policy 18% The NYT paper- Russian democrats 6% 6%
Empirical Framework: Distribution of discursively articulated positions “No/Against” by discussion themes Positons AGAINST (validated claims; sample size 100 posts, NYT-LJ discussion) Putins policies Russias military 7% policy 21% Russian governments policy 19% Russian democratc/ human rights defenders 9% Americasdemocracy & policies The NYT paper 39% 5%
Empirical Framework: Distribution of holders of of discursively articulated “Yes/For” positions by discussion themes Participants with "For" position (validated claims; sample size 100 posts, NYT-LJ discussion) Russias military policy Putins policies 13% 37% Americasdemocracy & policies 17%The NYT paper 10% Russian democrats/ human Russian rights defenders government policy 10% 13%
Empirical Framework: Distribution of holders of discursively articulated “No/Against” positions by discussion themes Participants with "Against" position (validated claims; sample size 100 posts, NYT-LJ discussion) Russias military policy Putins policy 11% 15% Russian governments policy 19% Americas Russian democrats democracy & human rights policies The NYT paper defenders 37% 7% 11%
Conclusions• Validity claims to normative rightness are useful to – (a) capture an intended meaning of utterances – (b) assess how deliberative are online debates – (c) measure the scope of public opinion discursively – (d) reveal issue-based intersubjective solidarities – (e) disagreements are the discourse drivers (not new finding)• Questions: – Can the conversational form of online discussions be (a) recognized and (b) mainstreamed both into formal politics? – What can be learned by studying such discussions? Can it be used, not abused, for agenda setting and policy making? (We know from history that mass participation can be controversial). How to move from political mobilization toward democratic socialization and collaboration across communities and civic cultures? Can that would help to overcome the “majoritarian tyranny”?