Tagged: The Public Sphere: An Encyclopedia Article

Debates and Approaches Reading Log Week 2

Anna Curtis


Wednesday 4:30 Tutorial


Week 2


According to Habermas, what role did newspapers play in the emergence of the public sphere?


Habermas speaks about the public sphere and public opinion. For public opinion to come into being, a reasoning public is presupposed Public opinion is a vital component of the public sphere as it is the representation within the public sphere of citizens positioning within the public environment they live.


Because reasoned opinion is the key to public opinion it follows that the press and circulation of information plays a huge role in the formulation of public opinion and the public sphere. Habermas states that “the bourgeois public sphere could be understood as the sphere of private individuals assembled into a public body, which almost immediately laid claim to the officially regulated “intellectual newspapers” for use against the public authority itself.” Habermas indicates that newspapers and therefore the circulation of information allow for the public sphere (collection of private individuals) to promote debate and criticism of public authorities and rules of social intercourse.


Bucher stated that “Newspapers changed from mere institutions for the publication of news into bearers and leaders of public opinion… that [the editor] changed from a vendor of recent news to a dealer in public opinion.” The press acted as a representation of the public both mediating and driving public discussion.


Basically reasoned opinion relies on information to be formed and for a public to form opinions collectively access to information is vital. Newspapers allowed for this and by enabling public opinion, a public sphere was able to present itself.