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Lurid and scandalous


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Lurid and scandalous

  1. 1. A lurid and scandaloussymbolic public sphere Joan Ramon Rodriguez-Amat (PhD) Media Governance, Media Organization and Media Industries University of Vienna
  2. 2. (Research) Under the belly button • Public Sphere – Beliefs of commonality, collective identity. – Scandal as disruptive publicity of transgression. • Media analysis – Lurid and scandalous publications (contents) – Smuggler and exile press (structure) • Media ecology – Illegitimate heir of the “serious press”. – Transmedia environment.Lurid and scandalous (dec‘11)
  3. 3. The repressive hypothesis 16th C. 17th C. 18th C. 19th C. Literary sphere Impolitical sphere Political sphere Press Public Sphere Coffeehouses Citizen Citizen People People Private business sphere Bourgeois Bourgeois Private Sphere Nation Nation Emancipated Emancipated Intimate sphere man man Promise of liberation Settlement in law “Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit” (1962) Epistemic ruptureLurid and scandalous (dec‘11)
  4. 4. …But were afraid to ask “The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution”. Hannah Arendt “Habermas’ treatment of the earlier period doesn’t look at “penny dreadfuls,” lurid crime and scandal sheets…”. Craigh Calhoun (1992) “Scandal is the public event par excellence, and any theory of the public sphere is sorely lacking without an understanding of its nature”. Ari Adut (2005)Lurid and scandalous (dec‘11)
  5. 5. Nous, Autres Victoriens Rupture: but triple imposition (repression). - Knowledge. Reason but: myth, madness, feeling - Subject. Individual but: intimacy, desire, sex (the obscure beach) - Law. Legitimacy but: identity, culture, nation.Lurid and scandalous (dec‘11)
  6. 6. Illegitimate Heir “The commercial press came on scene not as the ideological opponent of the opinion press but as its illegitimate heir. Under the pretext of delivering information to the public sphere at a reasonable price, it presented the news as if it were a consumer product”. (Hohendahl, P.1989:325)Lurid and scandalous (dec‘11)
  7. 7. Selling, talking, reading • Increase of press – scandal press “New York newspaper editors in the 1830s, ahead of all others, achieved astounding circulation growth. By 1850 the US had 240 dailies with a circulation of 750,000 copies. (Roger Fischer, 2004: 287) By the time of the crime described above (1888) the Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper published between 500.000 copies (1872) and 1,000,000 (1896). • Increase of readership National(ized) languages; fiction and news mixed; prose vs poetry, etc. • Oral-written discussions coffeehouses «Taverns facilitated the convergenceof the oral and print aspects of the public sphere by providing patrons access to conversations and newspapers, gossip and books, lectures and pamphlets» (Burrowes, 2011:29) Scandal stimulated debate and conversation on moral and identity.Lurid and scandalous (dec‘11)
  8. 8. Always, here, together Time: “The narrative of the Western nation which Benedict Anderson so perceptively describes as being written in homogeneous, serial time” (Bhabha, 1994) Everyday life described: "I should have heard it had there been any, I think," said Mrs. Green, when interviewed, "for I have trouble with my heart, and am a very light sleeper.” (Lloyds weekly Newspaper, 1888) Space – Symbolic places: Whitechapel, Baker street 221B. – Referents of proximity: London, Manchester, city versus rural. – Referents of distance: the exotic colonies, Orient, etc. The stories were told through pamphlets, newspapers, sheets, in images and fictional forms: Transmedia narratives. They were consumed by broad layers of society: united the readers.Lurid and scandalous (dec‘11)
  9. 9. Naturalising the norm “If these accounts were allowed to be printed and circulated, it was because they were expected to have the effect of an ideological control – the printing and the distribution of these almanacs was in principle subject to strict control. But if these true stories of everyday history were received so avidly, if they formed part of basic reading of the lower classes, it was because people found in them not only memories, but also precedents; the interest of “curiosity” is also a political interest” (Foucault, 1995:67)Lurid and scandalous (dec‘11)
  10. 10. Imposed freedom • Technologies of liberation/domination: “Rationalist and universalist claims of history where also the technologies of colonial governance: Evolutionism, Evangelism, Utilitarianism. (Foucault, 1970, 369)Lurid and scandalous (dec‘11)
  11. 11. Concluding: Symbolic Public Sphere • Scandal press stimulates debate (oral, written, fiction, news) • Reproduces a particular sense shared of place/time • It works in a medium (as environment) of narratives • Therefore it contributes to a collective (national) identity. • Scandalous press is part of the Public sphere. – (by acting under its belly button) – (Not –apparently- helping the rational debate). • Symbolic public sphere – Integrates the individual (from its otherness) – Integrates the State of Law (from its otherness) • Scandalous press was an integrative component of the Public Sphere.Lurid and scandalous (dec‘11)
  12. 12. Bonus track • Postnormal network futures “Network thinking is historically deeply influenced by ecological science. (…) We may then begin to make out a politics beyond the network where human and non- human, living and non-living are connected to mutual benefit” (Cubit, 2010) • Networks can build collective beliefs of belonging. – Provide a sense of time/ space: forms of Here and Now. – Stimulates a debate that extends: oral/written; fiction/news; stereotypes? – Provide a transmedia narrative of shared reality – Normative effects of normality (postnormality) – Creates (new) forms of readership (as publicum). Can we talk about a public self aware as a condition for –e-democracy?Lurid and scandalous (dec‘11)
  13. 13. References Adut, A. (2005) “A theory of scandal: Victorians, Homosexuality, and the fall of Oscar Wilde” in: American Journal of Sociology, 11.1(july):213-48. Bhabha, H. (1994) The location of culture. London: Routledge. Burrowes, C. (2011) “Property, Power and Press Freedom: Emergence of the Fourth Estate, 1640-1789”. In: Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. Calhoun, C. (1992) Habermas and the public sphere. Cambridge (EUA), MIT Press. Cubitt, S., R. Hassan, I. Volkmer (2010) “Postnormal network futures: A rejoinder to Ziauddin Sardar” in: Futures 42 (2010) 617–624 Eley, G. (1992) “Nations, Publics, and Political Cultures: Placing Habermas in the Nineteenth Century”. In: Calhoun, C. (1992) Habermas and the public sphere. Cambridge (EUA): MIT Press. Foucault, M. (1970) The order of things. An archaeology of human sciences. London: Pantheon Books Habermas, J. (1981) Historia y crítica de la opinión pública. La transformación estructural de la vida pública, Madrid: Gustavo Gili, 1st ed. Hohendahl, P. (1989) Building a national literature. The case of Germany 1830-1870. New York: Cornell University Press. Newlyn, L (2003) Reading, Writing, and Romanticism. The anxiety of reception. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Roger Fischer, S. (2004) A history of reading. London: Reaktion books. Thompson, J. (1995) The Media and Modernity. Cambridge: Polity PressLurid and scandalous (dec‘11)