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Public Sphere
Public sphere

A concept proposed and developed by the neo-Marxist Jürgen Habermas (1989), which describes a space for the free exchange of ideas through rational communication. Habermas argues that this space – ‘conceived as the sphere of private people come together as a public’ (1989: 27)–emerged as capitalist markets and institutions replaced the feudal centrality of the Church in defining social life. An increasingly powerful class (predominantly middle-class men), grounded in the philosophy and culture of the Enlightenment, created, for the first time, an opportunity and a channel to criticize the authority of the state (Harrison, 2000: 19). Thus, the public sphere is simultaneously an intellectual space, a deliberative democratic space as well as an institutional space, centred on coffee houses, theatres, debating societies, ...

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