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Lecture New Media New Citizenship Week 3: The public sphere Marianne van den Boomen.

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Presentation on theme: "Lecture New Media New Citizenship Week 3: The public sphere Marianne van den Boomen."— Presentation transcript:

1 Lecture New Media New Citizenship Week 3: The public sphere Marianne van den Boomen

2 3 issues ● social contract and views on 'the people' ● the public sphere (Habermas and critiques) ● modernism & postmodernism

3 The contract metaphor social contract – implied contract between state and citizens – Constitution: basic human and civil rights for a nation – language of rights contract as a general model – labour as explicit contract – buying as explicit or implicit contract – between citizens (partners, parents, friends etc.)

4 Patterns of exclusion – 'slaves' the poor: deprived of property and resources slaves: deprived of your own body, labour and time, deprived of human rights – women (sex/gender) by 'body' and/or by attribution gendered dichotomy man-woman non-neutral: – masculinity = active, strong, rational, productive, public – femininity = passive, weak, irrational, reproductive, private 'feminized' others: gay man, childeren, elderly, the sick and otherwise weak and non-autonomous – 'others' racial, ethnical religious, subcultural

5 Pessimist vs optimist views on people Pessimistic, right wing: humans are inclined to evil, anti-social, egoistic discipline, punishment, law and order, hierarchy Optimistic, left wing: humans are good, social, cooperative participation, democracy, self-management Culture of the people, popular culture: pessimistic: passive, trivial, commercial entertainment; homogeneous mass culture, no quality, no civil education optimistic: active audiences, usable stories, social relevance, emancipatory force, 'democratainment'

6 The public sphere The public sphere is a level somewhere in between the daily lives of citizens and the state policies/regulations. Habermas: the sphere of private persons assembled to form a public

7 Rise of the public sphere (18 th century) new bourgeois class, political & economical split, public & private split liberal debating space, aimed at rational discussion and consensus, 'ideal communication' institutionalized influence on the state not yet commmercialized symbol: coffeehouses


9 Decline public sphere (19 th 20 th century) public expanded private interests, non-rational opinions, compromises loss of critical functions, public relations instead of public sphere commercialized, privatized symbol: snack bars, fast food chains and video game halls



12 Nancy Fraser's critique on Habermas bracketing obscures real inequalities bourgeois men are not the same as humanity women are ignored, made invisible the public sphere public sphere is not a unity, there are several counter publics no room for anything considered private and bodily the ideal of consensus obscures real contradictions and conflict diversity and private issues are not a step back, but a step forwards strong publics & weak publics in a diffentiated model think more in terms of the contruction of identities than in terms of universal common issues more in terms of differences than in terms of unity and sameness

13 Virtual communities and the public sphere Pessimistic assumption Modern problems of social cohesion and unity: scaling up and anonimization of modern society no more traditional local communities, with coffeehouses and pubs people don't even know who is living next door passive receivers of mass media information and opinion Optimistic solution Virtual communities can revitalize the public sphere: no one exluded, all active contributors to a public debate bracketing of status, appearance, and inequalities is done automatically anyone can create his own community a new public sphere of public-private diversity

14 Modernity/modernism 1 Era and/or a world view based on rupture with premodern, traditional community 1 history conception linear history of progress, liberation of the autonomous subject 2 humanity conception founded in Enlightenment and humanisn: mind above body, cogito ergo sum emergence of the ‘free individual’ in political theory: assuming a pregiven autonomous individual, equipped with reason and logic belief in objective truth and gradual progress by technology and science belief in efficiency, instrumental reason, objectivity transcendental/universal reasoning is possible

15 Modernity/modernism 2 3 politics and citizenship power grounded by constitution and rule of law in nation state extension of rights: gradual or revolutional liberation and emancipation of minorities liberation = freedom of individual choice (grand narrative of liberalism) liberation = freedom by collective structures (grand narrative of socialism) 4 social-cultural order clear and hierarchical separations of spheres: between science and ideology/belief between state and religion between public and private sphere between higher and lower culture, between real art and popular culture

16 Postmodernity/postmodernism 1 Era after and/or view on modernity/modernism as illusion, as construction 1 history conception no progress, it is about nonlineairity and parallel development of different histories no Grand Narratives anymore, just small stories 2 humanity conception 'theoretical anti-humanism', humans are not the center of the universe: the mind is a construction, the body is a construction no pregiven autonomous subject; constructed by socio-political structures no belief in technological progress or scientific truth, truth is subjective and local efficiency, instrumental reason and objectivity are ideological constructions transcendental reason or universal values are impossible, only local small stories

17 Postmodernity/postmodernism 2 3 politics and citizenship no foundational centre of power, not in the nation state, nor elsewhere power is everywhere, decentered in distributed networks no universal human rights possible, only local diversity diversity and multiculturality everywhere, no unequivocal strategy of empowerment of the excluded is possible, only partial tactics and small stories 4 socio-cultural order no fundamental difference between ideology and science, science is also ideology distinction between public and private space is impossible no fundamental distinction between high and low culture; between art, popular culture, media and entertainment

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