The Public Sphere

Public sphere, according to Jurgen Habermas is “…a realm of our social life in which something approaching public opinion can be formed.” (Habermas, 102). In other words, it is a place where people can exchange and discuss ideas dealing with the welfare of the public as a whole. Issues that effect the society tend to fall in the jurisdiction of government policies. For example, in David Joselit’s The Video Public Sphere, Joselit identifies how the line between personal opinions and political opinions have consistently blurred about minorities such as people of color, women, and homosexuals (Joselit, 451). These groups have suffered numerous conflicting ideologies that has single handedly effected their wellbeing.
The amount of power the public has, however, is very questionable in this day and age. The public sphere is directly influenced by propaganda as opinions will always be controlled via one of the five filters that Norm Chomsky addressed in is Propaganda Model. Keeping in mind, the elite controls most of those filters.

Lets use people of color to further elaborate the point. An elitist class of white democrats was the first to introduce the “Jim Crow Laws” in the south. This is a prime example of a ruling class opinion that turned into a ruling idea and law mentioned Civil rights organizations had limited and highly censored means to combat these laws. Thus I pose the question, if minorities invented “jim crow” laws and the elitist disagreed with them, would it have taken the elites as long to outlaw the rules as it took the minorities, who are still struggling with Jim crow effects today? In short, the public sphere is an ideal goal but to overcome the adversity raises the question of how effective public opinion, no matter the class, really is.


2 Responses to “The Public Sphere”

  1. katiekoep Says:

    I really like your example of the Jim Crow laws — completely racist laws that should never have been accepted by anyone, but because they were introduced by the ruling class, they somehow became unquestionable. No one seemed to see that they were completely unreasonable and needed to be fought. There are so many examples of this in our society still today and we are too scared and feel too insignificant to do anything about them. I think that’s where Marx and Engels went wrong. We are quite aware of our oppression, but feel completely helpless against it.

  2. christinatx Says:

    Hello, again I’m makig up for some late comment/blog time. I also think that your example about the Jim Crow Law was a ncie addition to the idea of public sphere. As I mentioned within another comment, I think that the helpless feelings and disadvantages stem from the lack of resources and availability to become more informed. I would also add that once we become aware, we find ourselves with the question of…what do we do next? This is where I think that the internet and social networking communities can create an impact in joining together for a cause and at the very least create some news with the hopes of an impact.

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