Sunday, March 22, 2009

Lei's questions

(1)In Michael Schudson’s view, the most important things of a public sphere are rules allowing citizens to speak and problem solving as its result. Is what Schudson conceptualized as public sphere similar as what Fraser defined as “strong public sphere” which regarded its goal as to influence the decision making? In other word, is Schudson too narrow since he only valued one kind of public sphere?

(2) In Schudson’s rule-governed public sphere, ground rules are used to encourage pertinent speaking. However, in Fraser and other public sphere scholars’ discussions, rules are used to exclude ordinary people from accessing the sphere. The dilemma made me think what could be the best approaches to make sure the participatory equality. And how can we deal with the contradictory nature of the “rules” of the public sphere?

(3) When Joke Herms talked about internet as public sphere, he said that “What we are witnessing is not the coming together of groups of friends, but groups of strangers who aim to connect to others based on shared and disputed agendas and goals.” On the contrary, Schudson argued that “Democratic conversation is conversation not among intimates nor among strangers but among citizens who are acquainted by virtue of their citizenship.” As analogy, I also remember that when speculating on citizen media, quite a few scholars don't like the word “citizen” since it cancelled the qualification of those people without citizenship. Then, how can we understand the participants of public sphere? Do we need to have a fixed definition of the public sphere participants as what Schudson did?

(4) Friedland et al “Even though the public sphere produces only this ‘weak’ form of power, the political system depends on the public sphere's capacity to generate legitimacy.” In the age of internet, the media system depends on the weaker form of power developed in the online public sphere that “the informal public sphere has a medium that in principle allows for large-scale expression of mass opinion in forms that systematically affect the institutional media system.” Do political system, institutional media system and informal online sphere constitute a hierarchy of public spheres? Or are the latter two parallel?

(5) “In the contemporary networked public sphere, however, Habermas's requirement of media independence and autonomy may no longer be either possible or necessary”. If nowadays institutional media system is inevitably more and more intertwinement with political and commercial power, and internet provides more ideal condition for public sphere, how can we understand mass media as public sphere? How much feature left for it to be public sphere?

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