Critical Notes on Habermas’s Theory of the Public Sphere

Susen, S. (2011). Critical Notes on Habermas’s Theory of the Public Sphere. Sociological Analysis, 5(1), pp. 37-62.

[img]
Preview
PDF
Download (330kB) | Preview

Abstract

The main purpose of this paper is to examine Habermas’s account of the transformation of the public sphere in modern society. More specifically, the study aims to demonstrate that, whilst Habermas’s approach succeeds in offering useful insights into the structural transformation of the public sphere in the early modern period, it does not provide an adequate theoretical framework for understanding the structural transformation of public spheres in late modern societies. To the extent that the gradual differentiation of social life manifests itself in the proliferation of multiple public spheres, a critical theory of public normativity needs to confront the challenges posed by the material and ideological complexity of late modernity in order to account for the polycentric nature of advanced societies. With the aim of showing this, the paper is divided into three sections. The first section elucidates the sociological meaning of the public/private dichotomy. The second section scrutinizes the key features of Habermas’s theory of the public sphere by reflecting on (i) the concept of the public sphere, (ii) the normative specificity of the bourgeois public sphere, and (iii) the structural transformation of the public sphere in modern society. The third section explores the most substantial shortcomings of Habermas’s theory of the public sphere, particularly its inability to explain the historical emergence and political function of differentiated public spheres in advanced societies.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
J Political Science > JC Political theory
Divisions: School of Social Sciences > Department of Sociology
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/1101

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

Downloads

Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics