Sunday, March 8, 2009

Yukun's Questions

Question about bourgeois class and middle class

I am still confused with bourgeois class. Most critical theories criticize bourgeois class. After I read Habermas’s and Nancy’s works, for me, bourgeois class and middle class are identical. Is it true? If it is true, most theories or political scientists agree with that strong middle class is the basis of democratic society. So shouldn’t we take more positive attitude toward to bourgeois class?

Question about institutional research approach to study public sphere and democracy.

No matter Habermas, Kellner or Nancy, all took an institutional research approach to study public sphere and democracy. Their differences or debates are about how to build an institution to achieve the best public sphere and democracy. But, based my personal experience, I believe democracy is a value or culture rather than an institution. Without this value or culture, public sphere or democracy will be ruined. I don’t if there is any scholar studying public sphere from other perspectives.

Question about civil society

Debates about civil society of public sphere remind me the debates of global governance. There are two critiques about civil society in global governance. I applied them in public sphere. First, how does civil society represent all various opinions? Second, how does the civil society form agreements accepted by majority member to achieve well-governance?

Without an authority, it doesn’t mean that civil society will reflect all the opinions among society. It is always controlled by some classes in the civil society. Like what Nancy mentioned in page 522, the civil society is dominated by male hegemony. Many scholars have argued that this is the myth of civil society. Pluralist model doesn’t guarantee the formation of plural opinions. Nancy and Kellner have many comments about that. However, if there are too many different opinions in the public sphere, how to form a consensus wasn’t mentioned in those articles.

Question about polarized opinions in public sphere.

From Habermas, Kellner to Nancy, all believed that finally there must be a consensus in public sphere, no matter comprehensive or un-comprehensive, just or unjust. I doubt that. If we thought public sphere as a market, sometimes the market is big enough to form polarized opinion. For example, due to booming development of Internet, radical opinions or people can be organized through virtual platforms. I am wondering if unlimited development of public sphere will bring polarized or fragmented opinions rather than consensus.

Question about democracy

At last, I want to discuss a normative question on democracy. It seems that all three scholars deemed that democracy is a goal. The aim of public sphere is to achieve democracy. But I challenge this logic. Sometime more inclusive public sphere brings more exclusive democracy. From my original country Taiwan’s experience, comprehensive open of public sphere just bring a format of democracy rather than high quality democracy. Without value, culture or tradition of democracy, the cost of democracy is that one generation of young people was destroyed. For me, the public sphere and democracy mean the rise of extremely right wing politicians, more ethnic conflicts and a more fragmented society.

On the other hand, Singapore, without open public sphere or democracy, has most incorruptible government in the world, the best economy performance and multiple cultures.

Democracy? So What?

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