The public sphere in the field of power

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In this article I ask (1) whether the ways in which the early bourgeois public sphere was structured-precisely by exclusion-are instructive for considering its later development, (2) how a consideration of the social foundations of public life calls into question abstract formulations of it as an escape from social determination into a realm of discursive reason, (3) to what extent "counterpublics" may offer useful accommodations to failures of larger public spheres without necessarily becoming completely attractive alternatives, and (4) to what extent considering the organization of the public sphere as a field might prove helpful in analyzing differentiated publics, rather than thinking of them simply as parallel but each based on discrete conditions. These considerations are informed by an account of the way that the public sphere developed as a concrete ideal and an object of struggle in late-eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century Britain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-335
Number of pages35
JournalSocial Science History
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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