Coined by Jürgen Habermas the “Public Sphere” is the space in which people gather as a collective to explore and discuss issues occurring the society through free speech and conversation, it is separate from the state and the official economy, and is egalitarian and open. This is evident in today’s contemporary entertainment such as the television show “How I met Your Mother”. Whereby like Habermas’ idea of a coffeehouse-like context by which individuals are settled in a small group of the ‘elite’ are conveyed through working class characters resided in New York city in their local bar, sparking up debates, topics and situations that happen on a day to day basis affecting different individuals per episode.
Those familiar with the show can therefore relate to the issues presented allowing this form of pop-culture to be the voice and influential opinion that shapes their views and beliefs on certain deliberations. This article outlines the diverse ways in which mass media through popular culture develop control over the audience which can relate to this theory of the public sphere and what it stands for. The public sphere has therefore altered through time through which it’s physicality with an audience.
To get the ball rolling let’s take Twitter for example as the ‘Public Sphere’ in which people are generally free to voice their opinions and thoughts to the world. Tweets, pictures, links and of course the famous #hashtag that links individuals all around the world on common societal grounds, debates and interests making it easier to participate in the public sphere, in today’s media it can take one single individual to create the next viral and trending topic through the power of the hashtag. This is evident in the the hashtag (#iwillridewithyou) that supported the Islamic minority in Australia following Sydney’s Martin Place siege whereby it struck fear in society as one mentally unstable criminal used one aspect of the religion which then encouraged hate and resentment. The message rising by hundreds of tweets per minute – within hours it had been used in almost 120,000 tweets, this exemplifies the revolving cycle in which the public can contribute to in a berserk debate that affected hundreds of thousands of people.
The flourish of content within the ‘Twittersphere’ are therefore debated no matter what it’s seriousness is and with a click of the screen you can re-tweet information that one may think is interesting, true or condescending. Everyday discussions are raised and with this the public sphere is put into motion, over the advancement of this space it has become a lot more mediated as views are thrown left, right and center, this can be displayed through Facebook whereby content such as the topics of ‘#freethenipple’ and ‘Breast-feeding in public’ have been flagged creating altercations online. Do you think this mediation is fair? By some extents it covers touchy subjects with a big blanket which cannot present a resolution for the arguments.
Jürgen Habermas’ idea of this public sphere has therefore been used as a firm foundation in which a generative media platform such as Twitter and popular culture represented through ‘How I Met Your Mother’ have been built upon. Resulting in a contemporary mediated public sphere. Let me know your thoughts guys!