Private Sphere3


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Talk based on upcoming book:
A Private Sphere: Democracy in a Digital Age, by Zizi Papacharissi, Polity Press 2010.

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  • 2 criteria of visibility and collectivity (Weintraub, 1997)
  • Organization of individual ecologies Visibility and collectivity Thewaysinwhichindividualsinternalizetheconvergenceofpublicandprivate, operateinthesocial,andabsorbtechnologicalconvergenceasaudiences,publicsandcitizens areexploredinthenexttwochapters. Privacy, not privatism
  • The architecture of these spaces informs human action by suggesting, concealing or disrupting activities, “organizing,” in Michel de Certeau’s (1984) words, “an ensemble of possibilities and interdictions . . . while the walker actualizes some of these possibilities” (p. 98). it is the fluidity and interconnectedness of overlapping capabilities that allows multiple networked planes of activity to form and host participatory and multimedia acts of consumption/production Intellectual antecedents : de Certeau – convergence of consumption and production (cultural poaching) Toffler’s prosumers
  • Instead, it is reflexively articulate through discursive practices, that allow both the formulation of agonistically framed arguments, and agonistically exercised claims to power. It is in this contemporary architecture, more reflective of current relations between power, ideology and identity that convergent technologies contribute to a liquid and ever-evolving, ever-imperfect democracies and citizens
  • Michael Schudson (1998) actually traced the first instance of this complaint to the 18 th century and the work of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who observed that “We have physicists, geometers, chemists, astronomers, poets, musicians, and painters; we no longer have citizens.” (Rousseau, 1750, as cited in Schudson, 1998, p. 365). Schudson recorded this as the first proclamation of the end of citizenship, but this also presents a first attempt at associating the ascend of the professional sphere and the workplace with a possible displacement of civic activity that previously resided in spheres now occupied by professions. This concern then re-emerges in a variety of writings of intellectuals and academics affiliated with political science, sociology and communication. de Toqueville (1835/1840), despite his admiration for the American model of democratic equality, expressed concerns on the incompatibility of a material culture that prioritized seeking material security with the independent pursuit of intellectual freedom. Dewey (1927) was hopeful about the role of communication and journalism in energizing a Great Public , but also concerned about the influence of commercial hegemony. Lippmann (1925) worried that individual members of the public were much too self-centered to care about public policy, and were frequently summoned to contribute to democracy through formulaic exercises, which merely required that they “do as little as possible in matters where they can do nothing very well” (p. 198). C. Wright Mills (1953, 1956) cautioned that mass society communication channels prescribe civic engagement that is so organized, it frequently effectively renders individuals disinterested observers or “strangers to politics” (p. 328). Riesman (1950) located these behaviors in his citizen type of the indifferent ; spectator citizens whose politics is driven by a consumerist approach and whose beliefs frequently reside in the “Don’t Know” polling response. Sennett (1970) connected civic passivity to the excessively organized order of modern urban living and the subsequent rise of a new Puritanism. Lasch (1979) explained civic apathy as a symptom of materially driven, self-absorption and evolving narcissism. Putnam (1996) traced the historical progression of citizenship in the modern era to structure a similar argument, finding television guilty of displacing time previously devoted to community involvement more generative of social capital. This sequence of citizenship critiques progresses in reverse-direction reproducible irony: Putnam (1996) idealizes the great civic generations that Riesman and Mills had dubbed indifferent; Riesman and Mills confront the civic indifference as a condition singular to the socio-economic hierarchy of their era implying a comparison with a past ideal state. Yet, in that past state, Lippman and Dewey had already expressed concern over the indifference of citizens, and had delved into the past in search of an ideal community, a past de Tocqueville, and before him, Rousseau, had also surveyed to no avail, in pursuit of the missing citizen.
  • A complex argument, made in 200 pages. I cannot convey complexity of argument. But I can give you a sense of its progression (slide?) and present some interesting ideas for discussion and seek your feedback Bloggin is not democratic. Not democratizing. Is it political? Yes. Is it only political? NO
  • Not all provides an opportunity for expression different from conventional mobilization, opinion expression, or protest. Not all issues on our radars warrant these types of reaction; several simply evoke sarcasm, humor or satire, which are equally important forms of political thought and expression.
  • Mouffe (2005) terms a “conflictual consensus,” and attempt a real confrontation based on a shared set of rules, and despite disparate individual positions (p. 52). Mouffe (2005) defined agonism as a “we/they relation” where the conflicting parties, although acknowledging that they are adversaries, operate on common symbolic ground and see themselves as belonging to the same association. In this context, “the task of democracy is to transform antagonism into agonism” (p. 20). Democratizing? No. Democratic? No. Borne out of democracy? Yes
  • Private Sphere3

    1. 1. Democracy in a Digital Age Zizi Papacharissi, PhD Professor and Head Communication, U of Illinois-Chicago
    2. 2. <ul><li>The mythology of the new </li></ul><ul><li>Technology and space </li></ul><ul><li>Public and private </li></ul><ul><li>fantasies of control and autonomy </li></ul>A control is not a discipline. In making highways, for example, you don’t enclose people but instead multiply the means of control. I am not saying that this is the highway’s exclusive purpose, but that people can drive infinitely and ‘freely’ without being confined yet while still being perfectly controlled. This is our future. (Deleuze, 1998, p. 18)
    3. 3. <ul><li>Nostalgia for past forms of civic engagement </li></ul><ul><li>Limitations to civic involvement presented by the representative democracy model </li></ul><ul><li>Aggregation of public opinion </li></ul><ul><li>Declining civic participation through formal channels of political involvement </li></ul><ul><li>A cynical public </li></ul>
    4. 4. <ul><li>Developing across spaces publicly private and privately public </li></ul><ul><li>Resting upon convergent media, spaces and practices </li></ul><ul><li>Suggesting newer modes of citizenship </li></ul><ul><li>Reforming metaphors of the past </li></ul><ul><li>A private sphere </li></ul>
    5. 5. <ul><li>Private expressions of citizenship </li></ul><ul><li>Retrofitting old habits into new media </li></ul><ul><li>Hybrid spaces and privée sociality </li></ul><ul><li>Retreating to private space to go public </li></ul><ul><li>Private and self-enclosed individuals, mobile privatization </li></ul><ul><li>Personal fantasies of autonomy, expression and control </li></ul><ul><li>Alone, connected </li></ul>
    6. 7. <ul><li>Historically sensitive </li></ul><ul><li>Expresses economic, social, cultural, political balances and imbalances of power </li></ul><ul><li>Examples: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Public life, private life and democracy in Ancient Greece </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Gender relations and the domestic sphere </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Religion and public vs. private </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Denotes visibility and collectivity </li></ul>
    7. 8. <ul><li>At present: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The privatization of public space and the return to the home as political space </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Privacy as commodity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A trichotomy: The social </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>A convergence of public and private, augmented by the affordances of technologies of convergence </li></ul></ul></ul>
    8. 9. <ul><li>Convergence: Technological/industrial/cultural/social confluence in how media circulate within our culture. Multiple media systems co-exist, content flows across platforms, audiences migrate toward newer entertainment experiences, multiple media industries cross-finance and cross-promote. A process and not a fixed relationship (Jenkins, 2006) </li></ul><ul><li>Remixed and remixable content (Manovich, 2005) </li></ul><ul><li>Not just a technological, but possessing a cultural logic of its own, blurring the lines between production and consumption , between making media and using media , and between active or passive spectatorship of mediated culture” (Deuze, 2007, p. 74). </li></ul><ul><li>Not a defining characteristic of all technology </li></ul><ul><li>Not a characteristic exclusive to technology </li></ul>
    9. 10. <ul><li>No sense of place </li></ul><ul><li>Doubled-up space </li></ul><ul><li>Multiplied space </li></ul><ul><li>Supersurfaces </li></ul>
    10. 11. <ul><li>Convergence of technologies </li></ul><ul><li>Convergence of spaces </li></ul><ul><li>Convergence of practices </li></ul><ul><li>Political activity migrates to architectures that are technologically sustained, upon the surface of pre-existing civic structures </li></ul><ul><li>What happens to citizenship? </li></ul>
    11. 12. <ul><li>Nostalgia for the past </li></ul><ul><li>What is good citizenship? </li></ul><ul><li>Contemporary citizenship modalities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The citizen consumer </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cultural citizenship </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The cosmopolite </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The monitorial citizen </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The digital citizen </li></ul></ul><ul><li>A liquid citizen: A combined model of flexible citizenship </li></ul>
    12. 14. <ul><li>Public space, not Public Sphere </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Access </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reciprocity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Commercialization </li></ul></ul><ul><li>On the importance of public space for change </li></ul>‘ Change life!’ ‘Change society!’ These precepts mean nothing without the production of an appropriate space . . . new social relationships call for a new space, and vice versa. – Lefebvre (1974/1991, p. 59)
    13. 15. <ul><li>Reflective of a Private Sphere at Work </li></ul><ul><li>1. The networked self and the culture of remote connectivity </li></ul><ul><li>2. A New Narcissism: Blogging </li></ul><ul><li>3. The Rebirth of Satire and Subversion: YouTube </li></ul><ul><li>4. Social Media News Aggregators and the Plurality of Collaborative Filtering </li></ul><ul><li>5. The Agonistic Pluralism of Online Activism </li></ul>
    14. 16. <ul><li>Architectures of distance and proximity enable private spheres of sociality </li></ul><ul><li>Social network sites and the plurality of activities they afford: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Multiply potential audiences </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sustain familiarity of private and enable reach of public </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Host self-performances on hybrid spaces that serve the values of autonomy, expression, control </li></ul></ul>
    15. 17. <ul><li>The self-reflective activity of an autonomous society depends essentially upon the self-reflective activity of the humans who form that society” (Castoriadis, 2007 (trans.) p. 151). </li></ul><ul><li>Narcissism, in moderation </li></ul><ul><li>Atomization of political expression and pluralization of political agenda </li></ul><ul><li>Deinstitutionalize political power, make democracy more porous, blogging an act of dissent, a political act, not journalism </li></ul>
    16. 18. <ul><li>Blogging provides the pulpit, YouTube the irreverence and humor democracy needs </li></ul><ul><li>Expands the spectrum of political activity </li></ul><ul><li>Enables direct communication within representative system </li></ul>
    17. 19. <ul><li>Traditional habits of passive spectatorship attain political weight </li></ul><ul><li>The act of reading (returns as) a political act </li></ul><ul><li>The wisdom of the collaborative hive mind </li></ul>
    18. 20. <ul><li>Fluidly exercized activism </li></ul><ul><li>Citizen chooses from activism menu, to engage in activities of variable duration, involvement, impact </li></ul><ul><li>Micro-agonism at work- is that bad? </li></ul>
    19. 21. <ul><li>Autonomy, expression, control </li></ul><ul><li>Defined by a plasticity of public and private boundaries </li></ul><ul><li>Political and other expression emanates within this civic, privée, and networked cocoon </li></ul><ul><li>Emphasis on connection over struggle </li></ul><ul><li>All develop within private terrains </li></ul><ul><li>The private sphere, as metaphor, describes and explains the mechanisms for civic connections in contemporary democracies. Its value is descriptive and explanatory, but not prescriptive. Far from a recipe for democracy, the private sphere is an attempt at new space and a new sociality. </li></ul>