Thirdly, can a media holding private interests actually operate as a public sphere forum effectively? The public sphere as a concept is most often associated with Jurgen Habermas, who conceptualized the idea in his book “The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere” (1962) – an inquiry into a category of bourgeois society. According to this work by Habermas, the public sphere in its most basic and ideal form is a realm or space where opinions particularly focusing on the needs of society are freely and openly exchanged between people without any restraints or external hinderances. (Habermas 1991: 176)This realm can also be a “virtual or imaginary community” (Soules: para 2) whose existence may not necessarily occur in any singular space. In today’s modern wold, where massive global communication networks spread their webs over the world, the current media scenario in all its forms and branches is the closest substitute to Habermas’s ideal and the best implement towards working and achiving that goal. However, we must ask ourselves that how comfortably positioned is this role with a vehicle that is propelled, fuelled and controlled primarily by the private interests of media conglomerates, corporate sponsorship and state string pulling? The public sphere is a multifaceted entity possessing a number of interlinked functions. It is through the processes of dialogue and particularly through means of critical discussion and debate that opinions and attitudes are generated in the public sphere (Soules: para 2) and is a foundation for “emancipatory social thought” (Holub 1997: para 7). In an ideal state, the function of the public sphere is to act as a mediatory space between society and the state. It is the source of mass opinion which is required to legitimize and guide the state’s affairs (Soules: para 2), and challenge and legitimize governments and authority (Rutherford 2000: 18 ). Habermas traces the origin and in a way proper concretization and emergence of an entity resembling the public sphere in 18th century emerging from the growth of coffee houses, the emergence of literary societies, and the expansion and rise of print media. As part of their efforts to keep the state under its reins, the parliaments and other agencies of representation based governments have sought to manage this public sphere (Soules: para 4). Habermas also acknowledges that there are precedents to public culture and traces their roots to the ancient Greeks. He mentions how in the discussion among its citizens, citizens interacted as equal and only through this interaction without restraints was it that that which existed in the public sphere become apparent, and in entering into the public sphere, by the core nature of the sphere as inclusive of all, become apparent to all (Habermas 1991: 4). He has however been criticized for idealizing the rational discussions of the 18th century bourgeois ignoring “‘the extent to which its institutions were founded on sectionalism, (and) exclusiveness.’” (Eley 1992: 321 in Crossley 2004: 11). Habermas' idea of the public sphere refers to a realm between the state and civil society where decisions were publicly reached through rational discourse. He identifies the English press in the nineteenth century as the prime of the public sphere, in which a multitude of ideas were aired free from contextual
MEDIA AS A GLOBAL STANDARDISER By (name of the of the class Name of the professor Name of the School Name of the If we are to undertake an attempt to understand the role of the media as a standardiser in society, then it shall serve us well to use the concept of the ‘public sphere’ serving as an outline for what the media can potentially be…
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