Public Sphere Theory

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From the scholar perspective, public sphere represents a space where the participants of political or social process exchange their ideas, positions and discuss questions regarding "matters of general interest." Dahlgren (1995) defines public sphere as a place "where information, ideas and debate can circulate in society, and where political opinion can be formed" (p.


Thereby, the public sphere makes possible the emancipation of its participants. In his The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, Habermas presents a socio-historical study of the rise, structure and disintegration of the public sphere. He ascribes the disintegration of public dialogue to the predominance of instrumental reason, that is, of a means-end rationality, in contemporary societies. This orientation has led to the impoverishment of cultural tradition and normative structures, on which individuals draw in the process of coming to an understanding. From the critical perspective, the concepts of public sphere and debate are intrinsically connected, because the latter usually constitutes a prerequisite for public sphere to form. Simultaneously, the focus on rationality in the theory of public sphere constitutes an important characteristic and has significant impact on public discourse.
Ideas articulated by Jrgen Habermas provide one with guidance to understand the problem of rationality in public sphere and discourse. According to Bohman, Habermas developed a two-level social theory that includes an analysis of communicative rationality and a theory of modern society and modernization. ...
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