Deliberative Democracy and the Public Sphere
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I discuss deliberative democracy, and in particular the public sphere, as theoretical tools to challenge the market logic of neoliberalism. The chapter will focus on the work of Jurgen Habermas, and his argument for political legitimacy through the transcendence of difference in a discursive space free from power and coercion (Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1989). The public sphere, arguably the most prominent democratic theory within media studies (Karppinen, Rethinking Media Pluralism, Fordham University Press, New York, 2013), reimagines relationships between citizens and representative politics beyond mere representation. Habermas’ work has been employed in ethnic media research, but often in a way that reflects the development of public sphere theory over the years since its original construction. Placing emphasis on the plurality of public spheres present in complex modern societies, scholars have highlighted ethnic media’s role in facilitating counter-publics, subaltern publics and Indigenous public spheres. This more plural landscape has itself raised questions over the relationship between different publics, and the continuing role of rational consensus when it comes to cross-cultural dialogue.
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