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Public Sphere And The Ideals Of A Democratic Society

1235 words - 5 pages

Democracy, formally known as the “rule by the people” is seen a form of governance which is ruled by the people, for the people. Modern civilization views democracy as an ideal, but many people forget that this ideal is very difficult to achieve. The creation of the public sphere, as well as communicative technologies intended to achieve one of the most important goals: to enhance democracy. The public sphere was created in order to have an area where people could meet and freely discuss issues within society (Ironstone March 21, 2014). On the other hand, the emergence of communicative technologies ties in with the idea of communicative capitalism, which emphasizes that the market is the ...view middle of the document...

Mass media is powerful and causes many issues because it attempts to manipulate and create an illusion of consensus (Habermas 1974, p.52). This is why Habermas believed that society needed a public sphere in order to have democracy because citizens deserved to be educated, and have a chance to discuss and debate issues in order to form their views apart from the media and the state. It is clear that Habermas’ goal of the public sphere was to offer inclusivity, as well as freedom of speech and opinions.
Nancy Fraser in her article, “Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy”, explains how the public sphere has not enhanced democracy. Throughout her article, Fraser criticizes the aspects which make up the public sphere. To start off, Fraser explains that the public sphere is not inclusive as it claims to be since it is not realistic (Fraser 1990, p.57). It actually prevented citizens like women and lower class from participating. The public sphere offered “inclusivity” which could be seen as an illusion because not all citizens were included in the male bourgeois sphere. Fraser also criticized the public sphere by saying that having a single sphere is not ideal (Fraser 1990, p.57). Fraser explained that if a society has a single public sphere, citizens are not presented with a variety of opinions/views thus not being properly informed. This causes the opposing party to create their own public called “subaltern counter publics” (Fraser 1990, p.58). This is where the opposing group can discuss their own opinions and issues, and from their present their ideas to the larger public. This completely contradicts the point of the public sphere because the public sphere is supposed to be where all individuals collectively come together, not form groups within a group. Fraser also claims that it is hard to determine common concerns since everyone is different (Fraser 1990, p.58). Due to the difference in common concerns, it can actually de-legitimize other concerns. Fraser uses feminist as an example and how they had to form a counter public to generate their concerns into the public sphere (Fraser 1990, p.62). This example proves that the public sphere was flawed as it was not open to all topics, especially ones that were personal. Lastly, Fraser criticized the fact the thought that there should be a separation between the civil society and the state (Fraser 1990, p.65). Fraser believes that this separation supports representative democracy in which public debates have to influence the stronger publics or the decision makers. This then creates a weak public where citizens have to depend on stronger public for change. This goes against the idea democracy where people can change and govern...

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