From Performance to Politics? Constructing Public and Counterpublic in the Singing of Red Songs
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In Chap. 2, I have taken some pains to discuss the relations between publicness and the ideal of democratic political participation. Let me provide a brief summarization here. According to classic theories in political philosophy, the notion of “public” can be conceived of in two different ways. In the first place, it can be traced back to the writings of Habermas (1989) and Arendt (1958, 1973) on the formation of the modern public sphere. For these two writers, the public sphere is principally an arena where citizens are free to participate for collective deliberation and negotiation for a common political project (Benhabib 1996; Staeheli 2010). Fraser (1990), on the other hand, develops a second approach towards the conception of public which departs radically from the focus on universal participation and consensus-building. Fraser rejects the idea that public sphere arises out of the concerted activities of a plurality of agents for the purposes of rational debate and consensus building. She proposes that public sphere is a realm of contestation and even confrontation between competing publics. Thus Fraser advocates a theory of the counterpublic, a political regime contesting exclusionary power relations and celebrating alternative political expressions.