Habermasian Public Sphere Analysis

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Lincoln Dahlberg. “The Habermasian Public Sphere: Taking Difference Seriously?” Theory and Society, vol. 34, no. 2, 2005, pp. 111–136.

Dahlberg examines and refutes three key arguments of critics of the Habermasian Public sphere, called Difference Democrats. In the Public Sphere, disagreement and difference are at the core of informal, citizen deliberation that allows for the expression of voices and conflicts. The broad circumstances of the Public Sphere act to protect and nurture difference in its formation of public opinion, which can then influence political systems. Its notion strives to maximize inclusion, define democratic communication, and designates the public sphere as an informal process with challenged borders. Difference Democrats
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Public deliberation is crucial because there is a wide range of wants, needs, and aims to not only be expressed, but heard. Bohman;s thesis relies on the notion that there are hoops to jump through when it comes to make public deliberation effective and reflective, they include: cultural pluralism, large social inequalities, and social complexity.
Bohman critiques the Habermasian public sphere, arguing that power has been transitioned away from the hands of the people and into the institutions. Bohman argues that it is through the process of public deliberation that the public can successfully jump through each of the hoops of cultural pluralism, large social inequalities, and social complexity. Bohman essentially defines public deliberation as a way for individuals to coordinate and engage with one another to solve problems and direct actions in situations. As a result we have more efficient and effective decision making because it is through this cooperation with one another that we can better understand ourselves as individuals, each others, and the communities and world around us. A condition, often required for public deliberation is equal access to the deliberation and dialogue processes. Yet, Bohman argues that equal standing is not
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It is through this dialogue that public deliberation actually becomes “public.” Engagement stimulates individuals to stay motivated and run the course of the dialogic process. Bohman’s central aim is to decipher between discourse and dialogue. For Bohman, it is through dialogue that individuals enter into public deliberation. It is through deliberation that the pluralism of our public is recognized and other perspectives can be subjected to public judgement. It is here that individuals can accept or reject these perspectives as part of how they perceive the world. Ultimately, Bohman suggests that we must rebuild and reform our current institutions to incorporate more perspectives and more deliberation, creating multiple publics, public rationality, and most importantly, continuous public

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