John Keane | Structural Transformations of the Public Sphere
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Structural Transformations of the Public Sphere

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Abstract : We are living in times in which spatial frameworks of communication are in a state of upheaval. The old hegemony of state-structured and territorially-bound public life mediated by radio, television, newspapers and books is being rapidly eroded. In its place are developing a multiplicity of networked spaces of communication which are not tied immediately to territory, and which irreversibly fragment anything resembling a single, spatially-integrated public sphere within a nation- state framework. The conventional ideal of a unified public sphere and its corresponding vision of a republic of citizens striving to live up to some “public good” are obsolete. Public life is today subject to “medievalization”, not as Habermas defined it in Strukturwandel der ffentlichkeit, but in the different sense of a developing and complex mosiac of differently sized, overlapping and interconnected public spheres. This restructuring of communicative space forces us to revise our understanding of public life and its “partner” terms, such as public opinion, the public good and the private/public distinction.

This Essay was originally published in The Communication Review , Volume 1, Number 1 (1995)

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Mr. Esmail Yazdanpour has translated the original text in Farsi. This tranlation is here available here to download in PDF format.