Public Spheres in the 21st Century

Habermas says that the idea ‘public sphere’ is a safe space where citizens can speculate and debate about common concerns, seperate from the state and the official economy (Middlemost 2019). Traditionally back in ye olde times when all discussion took place in taverns when the men would undo the ruffles on their shirts and get into the business of the day. Like who stole Sir Alfreds cows and what action they will take to punish the scoundrel who committed the atrocity. However now the ‘barroom banta’ as we once knew it is slowly venturing further and further away from the idealistic public sphere that the German philosopher Jurgen Habermas imagined.

Now when I say ‘Public Sphere’ to any rational thinking younger generation member who has access to the internet would instantly make the connection to a social networking site like facebook, twitter or even a blog site like the one this very discussion is posted on. However, as much as these platforms let people post their opinions, host arguments and “speculate on common concerns” it is not as idealistic as it seems. I would have to say that I use these sites as my ‘Public Sphere’ much more than I would for instance a lively discussion with friends and. I would have to say it all of these media driven public domains are all have one fundamental flaw that sets them apart from what is considered the ideal public sphere and this is the hope that the are completely seperate from the state.

The example of want to focus on is twitter. Twitter works off the basis of hashtags to link users around the globe to similar discussions. Other Public Spheres like Q&A, a programme on the ABC, uses twitter to not ensure its audience at home can join the discussion and have their opinions heard. It is important to realise though that all of these media driven enterprises are heavily monitored by government organisations globally and this takes away from the principals of a ‘Public Sphere’ which, quite frankly, is a tad disheartening.

The way that these forms of public spaces manage to include all opinions from any socioeconomic background ensure that they hold some credibility as public spheres and the ability the media have to influence the content and discussions that take place by simply posting relevant stories and ethical discussions every minute of every day means the ideology of a public space still lives on.

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