Representing the public sphere : the new journalism and its historians

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Although the heuristic concept of the “public sphere” has been frequently used by historians and media scholars of Britain and North America since the translation of Jürgen Habermas’s 1962 book into English in 1989, what we mean by the concept often remains hazy and, as Joad Raymond among others has noted, generally unsatisfactory. This stems from two causes. On the one hand, though Habermas’s account arguably remains the best general theory of the public sphere available, scholars have found much to criticize in it. Some have pointed out that Habermas was eliding normative and historically descriptive categories, and that in fact the idealized Habermasian public sphere, in which private citizens came together to discuss matters of public concern in an influential venue, has never existed in reality (Schudson, Eley). Others have taken Habermas to task for positing a unitary public sphere associated with a rising bourgeoisie as the public sphere. Rather, it should be recognized that there have been multiple publics that have always been oppositional; to characterize the dominant public sphere as the public sphere is itself a political, hegemony-seeking act (Fraser, Mah). In the face of such critiques we might be forgiven for wondering whether the term is even worth saving.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTransatlantic print culture, 1880-1940 : emerging media, emerging modernisms
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9780230228450
ISBN (Print)9781349363872
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2008
EventTransatlantic Print Culture, 1880-1940: Emerging Media, Emerging Modernisms Symposium - University of Delaware, Newark, DE, United States
Duration: 28 Apr 200728 Apr 2007


ConferenceTransatlantic Print Culture, 1880-1940: Emerging Media, Emerging Modernisms Symposium
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityNewark, DE


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