Habermas and the public sphere: the adventures of a concept
The discussion of the public sphere represented a central element in the process of reconstructing Critical Theory in the second half of the 20th century, producing a major change in this theoretical tradition. This article aims to reflect the Habermasian perspective of the public sphere. First, we will emphasize how Habermas, from a youth work, “Structural Change of the Public Sphere”, discusses the emergence, in modernity, of salons, cafes and newspapers, as spaces for discussion and deliberation. However, Habermas notes that economic interests came to dominate the public sphere, in which power and money were greater forces than rational and argumentative discourses, having, furthermore, the privatization of the public space for discussion. Therefore, we will explain how the public sphere is discussed again in its most recent texts. In these, Habermas argues that contemporary civil society is composed of organizations and associations that capture the echoes of social problems, transmitting them to the political system, as well as putting the issues in the light of public discussion. Habermas highlights the existence of non-institutionalized publics capable of organizing within the scope of civil society, such as social movements, such as a type of public sphere that questions current relations.
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