Habermas Revision - Habermas' Public Sphere How useful is...

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Habermas’ Public Sphere How useful is the concept of a bourgeois public sphere to the historian of 18 th century Europe? Critically evaluate Habermas’ claim that the bourgeois public sphere was “the ruling authorities” adversary. How useful is Habermas’ concept of the “bourgeois public sphere” to the historian of eighteenth century culture? The public sphere denotes specific institutions, agencies, practices; however, it is also a general social horizon of experience in which everything that is actually or seemingly relevant for all members of society is integrated. Understood in the sense, the public sphere is a matter for a handful of professionals (e.g., politicians, editors, union officials) on the one hand, but, on the other, it is something that concerns everyone and that realises itself only in people’s minds, in a dimension of their consciousness." (Negt and Kluge, 1993) - German philosopher and social theorist - Trained in a Marxist school - Argues that over 17 th /18 th century a new type of public sphere evolved. - A European phenomenon though occurred at different times. - Historians had long ago suggested that the late 18 th century was the time of the rise of public opinion. - However the advantage of the term “public sphere” (coined by Habermas) over the phrase “public opinion” are that it communicates more sense of debate, of an arena rather than attitude, and also more sense of the locales in which debate was conducted. - There was a time lag until the public sphere entered the discourse of historians. - Encouraged them to study not only coffee houses but other informal institutions such as academies, clubs and salons. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere - Habermas: middle ages- no clear distinction between public and private. State a fluid entity. The king exercised some sovereignty but there were other power bases, such as the church and feudalism. - Early modern period: increasingly centralized, equivalence between state and nation. - Idea of society emerging as a distinct realm from the state, and therefore family. - Concentration of power in the monarch- makes much clearer what is public and private. - At the same time enormous transformations in the economy.
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- Habermas developed a normative model of the public sphere as a “realm of our social life in which something approaching public opinion can be formed.” - Illustrates the transition from old regime- bourgeois society. -
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This note was uploaded on 04/17/2008 for the course HIST culture an taught by Professor Drclarke during the Spring '08 term at Trinity College Dublin.

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Habermas Revision - Habermas' Public Sphere How useful is...

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