This book covers the key concepts central to understanding recent developments in media and communications studies. Wide-ranging in scope and accessible in style it sets out a useful, clear map of the important theories, methods, and debates.

The entries critically explore the limits of a key concept as much as the traditions that define it. They include clear definitions, are introduced within the wider context of the field and each one is fully cross-referenced, is clearly illustrated with relevant examples, and provides a guide to further reading and an index.

This book is an essential resource for students in media and communications and for those studying sociology, cultural sociology, cultural studies, and sociology of media.

Public Sphere

Public sphere

This increasingly influential term is most closely associated with the work of Jürgen Habermas (1974: 49), who defined it in 1964, summarily, as ‘a realm of our social life where something approaching public opinion might be formed’ and which ‘mediates between society and the state’ (1974: 50). For Habermas, this realm definitely includes the media.

The tentative shape of that short formulation also indicates the deeper complexities of the concept. Perhaps most significantly, ‘might be formed’ points to both Habermas’ normative (that is, related to a critical ideal criterion) hopes for its use and his concern that that hope remained unfulfilled. For, like other critical ...

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