Week 4 Reading Log
Boeder, P. 2005, Habermas’ heritage: The future of the public sphere in the networked society, First Monday, Vol 10, Number 9, Sept 5
Boeder’s article explores the evolution of Habermas’ Public Sphere through the advancement of technology and the increasing access to information and to generate information within the Public Sphere by private individuals. Boeder examines the theories of several different intellectuals in relation to news vs narrative, commoditisation and commercialism and our very notion of democracy when entering into the unchartered territory of the technological network age.
Boeder explores news media’s tendency toward public relations where managing consensus rather than providing an avenue to establish it has become priority.
Arguably the event of the internet should advance Habermas’ notion of the Public Sphere by providing a vehicle for private individuals to engage in public discourse, however in the early days of internet those with access where largely white, wealthy males and they were able to shape the discourse carried out. It would be interesting to follow up on the theorists Boeder has drawn on now to see what their evolving opinions are given the much greater accessibility to internet than in the mid 1990s.
Boeder argues that mass media requires the public to be active participants in the generation and distribution of information, decentralised ownership of the internet and access, and a discerning public. The public does have more ability to contribute than they did with traditional media, as we can see by the prominence of private individuals, via blogs who have catered to niche markets on a global scale and become social commentators.
Boeder addresses the global nature of communication in the modern day. He explores Hjarvard’s contention that global access does not result in a public sphere on a global level, but that rather the public sphere will no longer be a unitary concept but rather an amalgamation of sub-spheres.
Finally Boeder talks about our tendency to abstract technology from cultural meaning when it is a vital component in our capacity to generate cultural meaning.