Changing Perceptions of the Public Sphere

Changing Perceptions of the Public Sphere

Christian J. Emden
David Midgley
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 222
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  • Book Info
    Changing Perceptions of the Public Sphere
    Book Description:

    Initially propounded by the philosopher Jurgen Habermas in 1962 in order to describe the realm of social discourse between the state on one hand, and the private sphere of the market and the family on the other, the concept of a bourgeois public sphere quickly became a central point of reference in the humanities and social sciences. This volume reassesses the validity and reach of Habermas's concept beyond political theory by exploring concrete literary and cultural manifestations in early modern and modern Europe. The contributors ask whether, and in what forms, a social formation that rightfully can be called the "public sphere" really existed at particular historical junctures, and consider the senses in which the "public sphere" should rather be replaced by a multitude of interacting cultural and social "publics." This volume offers insights into the current status of the "public sphere" within the disciplinary formation of the humanities and social sciences at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-501-7
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction: Changing Perceptions of the Public Sphere
    (pp. 1-12)
    Christian J. Emden and David Midgley

    Fifty years have elapsed since Jürgen Habermas’s bookThe Structural Transformation of the Public Spherewas originally published in German.¹ During that time the historical model of the “public sphere” and its development that Habermas described has been taken up and modified in many ways. The specific narrative that Habermas constructed for the political development of western European states—Britain, France, and Germany in particular—since the eighteenth century has been recognized to have its limitations, and other ways of conceiving the operation of the public sphere or spheres (or indeed the “publics” that constitute the more specific and concrete...

  5. Part I Publics before the Public Sphere
    • Chapter 1 A Public Sphere before Kant? Habermas and the Historians of Early Modern Germany
      (pp. 15-34)
      Joachim Whaley

      The master narrative of the emergence of modern civil society that Habermas set out in hisStrukturwandel der Öffentlichkeitin 1962¹ has been one of the few big theories that has remained perennially influential. Secularization and modernization come and go, but Habermas, it seems, remains continually relevant.

      This is perhaps all the more surprising in view of the fact that what he said was fundamentally not that new. Ernst Manheim had, for example, studied the sociology ofÖffentlichkeitin the 1920s and had outlined an account of the evolution of successive forms of the public sphere in Germany since the seventeenth...

    • Chapter 2 Kunigunde of Bavaria and the “Conquest of Regensburg”: Politics, Gender, and the Public Sphere in 1489
      (pp. 35-56)
      Sarah Westphal

      Archduchess Kunigunde of Austria, Duchess of Bavaria-Munich through marriage, was born in Wiener Neustadt in 1465.¹ She was the fourth of five children born to the Habsburg Emperor Friedrich III and his consort Eleonore, the sister of the reigning king of Portugal. Kunigunde and her older brother, Maximilian, were the only siblings to survive to adulthood. Maximilian became one of the most celebrated personages of the era, first as the German king and then as Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I. To literary and cultural historians Maximilian is especially known for hisGedechtnus, a concept he himself used to refer to...

    • Chapter 3 Publicizing the Private: The Rise of “Secret History”
      (pp. 57-72)
      Peter Burke

      This chapter is a contribution to the history of the shifting frontiers between the public and the private spheres. The title is intended to suggest that, like many other historians, I continue to find Jürgen Habermas’s notion ofÖffentlichkeit, or public sphere, useful, although subject to certain qualifications, three in particular: we need to (1) speak of public spheres in the plural, (2) think of the public sphere not as present or absent in a particular culture but as present in a greater or lesser degree, and (3) remember that the line between public and private has been drawn in...

  6. Part II Thinking about Enlightenment Publics
    • Chapter 4 Private, Public, and Structural Change: The German Problem
      (pp. 75-89)
      Nicholas Boyle

      Jürgen Habermas’sThe Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere,first published in 1962,¹ is the foundational text for anyone concerned with the public sphere, and it remains astonishing in its breadth of reference and the strength of its systematic structure. Nevertheless, as with all controversial classics, reservations are possible in respect to its principal thesis. This chapter deals with two of them. Habermas’s account of the origins of the public sphere in the eighteenth century, particularly the later eighteenth century, is based, both explicitly and implicitly, on the model provided by Germany, even when he is discussing developments in other...

    • Chapter 5 The Second Life of the “Publics Phere”: On Charisma and Routinization in the History of a Concept
      (pp. 90-120)
      John H. Zammito

      Because concepts are the most crucial instruments with which practitioners of the human sciences operate, it is critical that we come to terms with their situatedness or contingency in time and circumstance. That is, we need to practice what Margaret Somers has termed a “historical sociology of knowledge.”¹ Now, the project of recognizing the historicity of concepts is not new. The prestigiousJournal of the History of Ideashas been in operation for a very long time, and intellectual history, qua history of ideas, has at least as long a tradition.² More recently, the massive and imposing project ofBegriffsgeschichte...

  7. Part III —Cultural Politics and Literary Publics
    • Chapter 6 Probing the Limits: The Contribution of Literary Writing to Defining the Public Sphere
      (pp. 123-141)
      David Midgley

      The public sphere, in Habermas’s understanding of the term, emerges historically as a forum of communication that mediates between the domain of the “state” and that of “society.”¹ What makes it particularly significant for political history is that it is socially permeable in both directions, a point that Habermas illustrates with reference to the character of salons and literary societies, as well as coffeehouses, as they developed in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.² Such institutions, according to Habermas, demonstrated the potential, at least, for differences of class and wealth to be suspended for the purposes of open critical discussion, enabling...

    • Chapter 7 Habermas Anticipated: The Eighteenth-Century Public Sphere as “Theater of the World”
      (pp. 142-163)
      Martina Lauster

      Habermas’s argument about the development of the public sphere bears a striking resemblance to a particular kind of cultural memory that was being developed by nineteenth-century authors. The fact that the early eighteenth-century public sphere of London became a subject of interest in Germany during theVormärz, the period between 1830 and 1848, can be explained by the paradigmatic role that British political culture served for liberal writers. In Britain, on the other hand, the same concern with eighteenth-century models heralded changes to the country’s participatory culture that became manifest, for example, in the 1832 Reform Bill. WhenDevereuxappeared...

    • Chapter 8 Karl Kraus and the Transformation of the Public Sphere in Early Twentieth-Century Vienna
      (pp. 164-182)
      Edward Timms

      The public sphere—die Öffentlichkeit—is one of the central themes explored in Karl Kraus’s magazineDie Fackel(The Torch), from its foundation in Vienna in April 1899 until his death in June 1936.¹ An electronic word search reveals that the wordÖffentlichkeitoccurs inDie Fackelno less than 597 times, and there are 2,823 instances of his use of the adjectiveöffentlich.² Kraus had good reason to be skeptical about the liberal concept of “public opinion,” oröffentliche Meinung; the pervasive focus of his satire is on forms of false consciousness generated by the media on behalf of...

  8. Bibliography
    (pp. 183-199)
  9. Contributors
    (pp. 200-202)
  10. Index
    (pp. 203-208)