What are the strengths and weaknesses of the public sphere as a concept and theory?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The strength of the public sphere, as a concept and theory, is that it provides a methodology and conceptualization of the "voice of the people." In other words, the public sphere is the direct and indirect, written and oral, discussions among people who are not officially part of the government or ruling classes. Habermas is thinking of reasonable people in coffee shops, restaurants, and other socializing places. He is also thinking of the influence of newspapers and opinion pieces. This sphere forms the court of public opinion. The crucial function of this is to check the government. With the rise of the bourgeoisie and the public sphere, governments and monarchies had to become more accountable for their actions.

In theory, the public sphere is a vital tool for people to have a voice (collective or variated) that keeps their government aware of their needs. One problem is that the critical discussions about politics and policies became specialized and practiced by academics and...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 1183 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on