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A New Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere? With, against, and beyond Habermas

Susen, S. ORCID: 0000-0003-0643-1891 (2023). A New Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere? With, against, and beyond Habermas. Society, 60(6), pp. 842-867. doi: 10.1007/s12115-023-00908-y


The main purpose of this paper is to assess the validity of the contention that, over the past few decades, the public sphere has undergone a new structural transformation. To this end, the analysis focuses on Habermas’s recent inquiry into the causes and consequences of the allegedly ‘new’ or ‘further’ [erneuten] structural transformation of the political public sphere. The paper is divided into two parts. The first part considers the central arguments in support of the ‘new structural transformation of the public sphere’ thesis, shedding light on its historical, political, economic, technological, and sociological aspects. The second part offers some reflections on the most important limitations and shortcomings of Habermas’s account, especially with regard to key social developments in the early 21st century. The paper concludes by positing that, although the constitution of the contemporary public sphere is marked by major – and, in several respects, unprecedented – structural transformations, their significance should not be overstated, not least due to the enduring role of critical capacity in highly differentiated societies.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Publisher Keywords: critical capacity; Habermas (Jürgen); new structural transformation; political public sphere; public sphere; structural transformation
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
J Political Science
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
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