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Jürgen Habermas’ Idea Of The Public Sphere

2247 words - 9 pages

Jürgen Habermas’ idea of the “public sphere” is considered a communications revolution because it allowed for the transfer of information and ideas. This free flow of communication that grew out of the public opinion would allow democracy to prevail as it provided checks on powerful groups in society and allowed for critical discussions. Although Habermas’ notion of this democratic mechanism allowed for citizens to play a larger role in society, it ignored those who were not property owning white men of high prestige. In counter to Habermas’ ideas, Nancy Fraser coined the concept of a “subaltern counterpublic”. Subaltern counterpublics are spaces for democratic conversation for those who ...view middle of the document...

The subaltern counterpublic of NASPA’s GLBT Knowledge Community provides a space for members to discuss topics that include one’s sexuality as a normal part of their personal identity, which is parallel to the dominant discourse of mainstream media that presents gay community topics in a way that separates them from the rest of society because their sexuality is seen as a defining trait.
The Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA) was founded in 1918 with the goal to advance the student affairs profession. NASPA betters the higher education system by providing professional resources and tools to its over 13,000 members. Knowledge Communities were created to foster relationships between those in the higher education profession with similar interests in order to share knowledge. The GLBT Knowledge Community has a goal to “encourage personal and professional growth, increased awareness and acceptance of GLBT professionals and students, and to promote understanding of GLBT needs” (NASPA). They attempt to break down barriers and open up conversation about issues that the community faces in a way that is different to how the media may present it.
The GLBT Knowledge Community of NASPA has a very active presence on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. They also have events for members to attend, a paper published twice a year that provides resources and research material on various issues and a monthly newsletter on community topics. An event that is being heartily promoted on their website is the 2014 NASPA Region V Power of One Conference called “A Family of Many: The Power of One”. This communications output of the subaltern counterpublic is a NASPA LGBTQA leadership conference for students. The main focus of the conference is to educate students from all over the country on the importance of how intersecting identities, such as one’s gender, race, sexuality and religion, play a key role in successful leadership. By creating an open and safe environment for students, this conference aims to create a discussion about the role identity plays in leadership. The two-day conference has various speakers and programs that will discuss the broad categories of gender, health and wellness and social justice, among many others. By having the GLBT Knowledge Community help plan and promote this event, they are presenting higher education members with a chance to discuss their sexuality as simply another part of their intersecting identities, rather than as a defining trait. Mainstream media often presents issues in the gay communities in a way that alienates those of the GLBT community and does not accurately cover the topic as it applies to them. The media makes it seem as if one’s sexuality is not just apart of one’s identity, but a characteristic that defines them and separates them from the rest of society. This conference run by NASPA allows students to create an alternative discourse about their identities, and focuses on all...

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