In essence, the public sphere has, at all times, been virtual because its significance lies in its concept.
The public sphere refers to a field in social life where people can team up to liberally talk about and identify societal issues, and, through that debate, persuade political act. It is a discursive space where people and groups come together to talk about matters of public interest and to achieve a common judgment (Habermas 1974, p. 49). The relationship between the public sphere, the media and democracy, has been the subject of huge and rising academic talks over the past four decades (Papacharissi 2009, p. 230). The most significant reasoning on the idea of the public sphere is, together with why it is vital, was produced by Jürgen Habermas, a German philosopher. His notion offers both a starting and reference point of this paper. Habermas (2006, p. 411) claimed that the media played a huge role in forming a vital constituent, as well as catalyst for the survival of the public sphere. In essence, the media has been typified principally through its deemed evolution from a securing the public interest into commodifying (Papacharissi 2009, p. 230). The media today is deems people to be more as consumers/clients instead of just citizens. This paper will endeavour to review these debates and also study the present state of the media in aiding public debate, as well as underpinning democracy. The paper will include questions such as what is the purpose of the public sphere? Why must media be integral to it? What is meant by ‘public’? Is Habermas’s concept a useful one or does it need refinement? Do contemporary media strengthen or weaken the idea of a public sphere? What is the relationship between the State the private individual and the public sphere? And, how have new digital technologies of mediation served to extend, complicate or otherwise ‘disrupt’