WiSe 20/21: Public Spheres – Power, Participation and Positionality
This course provides an introduction to key concepts in the field of public sphere theory and traces its development in academia. Jürgen Habermas’ early theorization on the public sphere (die ... Lesen Sie weiter
This course provides an introduction to key concepts in the field of public sphere theory and traces its development in academia. Jürgen Habermas’ early theorization on the public sphere (die Öffentlichkeit – in singular), built on empirical ground of the rise of the bourgois public sphere in Europe in the 18th and 19th century, remains an important reference point in the debate on the deliberative model of public sphere (see for example the collections by (Calhoun, 1992) or (Correia & Maia, 2011). His theory of the Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit, has gained increased popularity with the arrival of many-to-many forms of communication and global processes of digitalization.
Scholars have continuisly extended the concpet through discussions of power: Most prominently, Nancy Frasers revisits the theory from a feminist perspective and introduces the concept of (subaltern) counterpublics (Fraser, 1992), opening a wider field of theoretical inquiry (Downey & Fenton, 2003)(Squires, 2002). A “non-exclusive public sphere” has been considered a “conceptual impossibility” by thinkers of “radical democracy” Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe (Laclau, Mouffe, 2014; xvii).
Questions theorists raise repeatedly are: Who is able to participate in which publics and why? By pointing to structural inequalities that exist in any society and open or limit access to the public sphere, we want to critically examine issues of participation in the debate. How do more recent conceptualizations, such as Networked Publics (Tufekci, 2018) and Performative Publics (Lünenborg, 2018) help us to grasp recent and future forms of participation? How are developments of technological infrastructures, influencing participation processes accounted for in communication science and related disciplines?
Finally, besides laying these theoretical grounds, this class will also provide students with skills to critically reflect on their own positionality and the positionalities of experts and journalists when participating in a networked public sphere.