Monday, October 30, 2006

Group 2's Responses for October 31st

TISR – Ch. 23

In his piece, "The Public Sphere," Jürgen Habermas addresses both the history of the public sphere and the way it has transformed from a bourgeois-centered realm consisting mainly of highly educated individuals to one with more participation from the general public.

According to Habermas, the media plays a significant role in the public sphere. The public can't always gather in a physical location and give everyone a chance to express their opinions, but media outlets like newsletters, newspapers, and television allow more people to participate in the public sphere. If Habermas had been writing 30 years later, after the Internet became popular, he would have definitely included new advances in public communication into his analysis. He might even say that the Internet allows for a return to some elements of the older public sphere with a more interactive structure

What is more useful: a relatively organized, small public sphere of highly educated individuals, or a relatively disorganized, larger public sphere that includes nearly everyone?

TISR - Ch. 24

In “Media and the Public Sphere,” Nicholas Garnham touches on the information divide that is occurring in society today. He blames this on the exclusivity of the public sphere, keeping those with little ‘knowledge’ out, and leaping others into prosperity. He goes on to examine the relationship between the public sphere and the media, particularly the broadcast medium. Garnham says that “public communication is transformed into the politics of consumerism” (363). Even public service announcements are influenced by competing commercial broadcasting. This is also true with political advertising, as politicians appeal to voters not as rational citizens concerned with public interest, but consumers who will respond to advertisements out of their own self-interest. It then becomes a question of public persuasion and how this influences the public sphere as a whole. The individual is persuaded on an individual level, rather than that of the general public. I think that niche marketing and narrow-casting in media today is a great example of reaching the individual rather than the public as a whole. Marketers have found a way to narrow their audience down to a specific person with certain needs and desires, and this is how they can sell their products or ideas. Some politicians even tailor their messages when campaigning in different markets around the nation. This reality raises an important question, which I think Garnham was trying to get at in his article, about media’s heavy hand in the development of the public sphere.

TISR – Ch. 25

John Keane’s article “Structural Transformations of the Public Sphere” discusses his vision of the public sphere. He believes that it is outdated to believe the ideal of a unified public sphere and rather it is the development of “complex mosaic of differently sized, overlapping, and interconnected public spheres that force us to radically to revise our understanding of public life” (366). He explains that the three public spheres are idealtypisch and rarely appear alone. Keane goes into detail the three different public spheres, the first the micro-public (local state), the second the meso-public (national state), and the third the macro-public (global state). Keane gives specific examples when defining the three aspects of the public sphere, the most interesting being the development of micro-public spheres among children with video games.

TISR – Ch. 26

Zizi Papacharissi’s article, “The Virtual Sphere”, investigates how political uses of the internet affect the public sphere. Many proponents feel that the internet has given people who wouldn’t normally have a voice, a place to speak their mind. However, many people feel that that there are some negatives to the internet in the public sphere. These people point to a digital divide as reasons why it is not as utopian as we once thought.

The internet is a useful avenue for people who would like to find out information about their representatives such as their voting records and their views on various issues. Another phenomenon that has emerged has been the fact that many political representatives have been using the internet to connect with citizens by posting blogs.

One of the many other reasons that people think the use of internet in the public sphere is such a good thing is because it allows people to connect with eac hother who would not be able to. In chatrooms and forums people can share and discuss their opinions, however this is a very utopian view and is in no way perfect.

Discussion Questions:

-Will public broadcasting survive and be important in the future?
-What public sphere do college students exist in or does everyone span
into many?
-Are there significant problems that cause divisions in the public
sphere(s) of today?
-Will the internet reinvent the public sphere or will it just transform it?

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