Contemporary articles citing Fraser N (1992) Habermas Public Sphe
public, sphere, political, cultural, culture, civil, society, practices, groups, action
- Adut, Ari. 2012. "A Theory of the Public Sphere." Sociological Theory. 30:4 238-262.
- The dominant approach to the public sphere is characterized by idealism and normativism. It overemphasizes civic-minded or civil discourse, envisions unrealistically egalitarian and widespread participation, has difficulty dealing with consequential public events, and neglects the spatial core of the public sphere and the effects of visibility. I propose a semiotic theory that approaches the public sphere through general sensory access. This approach enables a superior understanding of all public events, discursive or otherwise. It also captures the dialectical relationship between the public sphere and politics by (1) specifying the mechanisms through which visibility and publicity become resources or constraints for political actors, (2) explaining the political regulation of visibility, (3) showing the central role that struggles over the contents of public spaces play in political conflict, and (4) analyzing the links among social structure, social norms, and political action in the transformation of the public sphere.
- Fine, Gary. 2010. "The Sociology of the Local: Action and Its Publics." Sociological Theory. 28:4 355-376.
- Sociology requires a robust theory of how local circumstances create social order. When we analyze social structures not recognizing that they depend on groups with collective pasts and futures that are spatially situated and that are based on personal relations, we avoid a core sociological dimension: the importance of local context in constituting social worlds. Too often this has been the sociological stance, both in micro-sociological studies that examine interaction as untethered from local traditions and in research that treats culture as autonomous from action and choice. Building on theories of action, group dynamics, and micro-cultures, I argue that a sociology of the local solves critical theoretical problems. The local is a stage on which social order gets produced and a lens for understanding how particular forms of action are selected. Treating ethnographic studies as readings of ongoing cultures, I examine how the continuing and referential features of group life (spatial arenas, relations, shared pasts) generate action and argue that local practices provide the basis for cultural extension, influencing societal expectations through the linkages among groups.
- Lo, Ming-Cheng & Yun Fan. 2010. "Hybrid Cultural Codes in Nonwestern Civil Society: Images of Women in Taiwan and Hong Kong." Sociological Theory. 28:2 167-192.
- Scholars have established that cultural codes and styles of expression in civil society must be recognized as informal mechanisms of exclusion, calling into question the possibility of the Habermasian normative ideal of the public sphere. This article joins theoretical discussions of how to remedy this problem. Going beyond Alexander's model of ``multicultural incorporation'' and borrowing from Sewell's theory of the duality of structure, we develop a theoretical framework of code hybridization to conceptualize how civil society participants achieve civil solidarity amid multiple, potentially contradictory cultural legacies. Code hybridization is a process whereby social actors not only incorporate the cultural codes of subordinate groups into the public sphere, but in doing so also potentially transform dominant codes. We conceptualize code hybridization in terms of three analytic steps: enlargement of the terrains of signification; reinterpretation of codes; and mixing of schemas. The resulting hybridized schemas and frameworks are particularly useful cultural tools for developing visions of civil inclusiveness for young, unstable civil societies. Using a brief comparative study of the representation of women in political cartoons in Hong Kong and Taiwan, we offer a concrete example of code hybridization a process linking the codes of liberty and caring while producing alternative and more inclusive narratives during moments of political agitation.
- Schneiderhan, Erik & Shamus Khan. 2008. "Reasons and Inclusion: the Foundation of Deliberation." Sociological Theory. 26:1 1-24.
- This article provides two empirical evaluations of deliberation. Given that scholars of deliberation often argue for its importance without empirical support, we first examine whether there is a ``deliberative difference''; if actors engaging in deliberation arrive at different decisions than those who think on their own or ``just talk.'' As we find a general convergence within deliberation scholarship around reasons and inclusion, the second test examines whether these two specific mechanisms are central to deliberation. The first evaluation looks at outcomes within a laboratory setting; the second at videotapes of decision-making processes within this setting. Our results show two things. First, in terms of outcomes, deliberation differs from other forms of interaction. Second, reasons and inclusion are central to the deliberative process. The more reasons provided within each group, the more likely participants were to change their position; similarly, the more inclusive groups were, the more likely participants were to change their position. We conclude by arguing that more work needs to be done, both in evaluating the deliberative difference and in disaggregating deliberation and examining its central explanatory mechanisms.
- Rohlinger, Deana. 2007. "American Media and Deliberative Democratic Processes." Sociological Theory. 25:2 122-148.
- Despite the importance of mass media to deliberative democratic processes, few scholars have focused on how market forces, occupational norms, and competition among outlets affect the quality of media discourse in mainstream and political outlets. Here, I argue that field theory, as outlined by new institutionalism and Pierre Bourdieu, provides a useful theoretical framework for assessing the quality of media discourse in different kinds of media outlets. The value of field theory is that it simultaneously highlights the importance of homogeneity and heterogeneity within a field of action, which provides a framework for discussing the roles different kinds of outlets play in deliberate democratic processes and evaluating the quality of discourse in mainstream and political venues. I illustrate the utility of this conceptualization through an analysis of 1,424 stories on abortion in nine U.S. media outlets and interviews with journalists, editors, and producers in these venues. I find that political media outlets provide higher-quality discourse than that of mainstream venues. Additionally, I find that while market pressures may heighten a focus on conflict in the abortion debate, this emphasis is exacerbated by mainstream journalists themselves, who assume that the general public is familiar with, and has taken a firm position on, abortion. I conclude by discussing the implications of these findings for deliberative democratic processes.
- Alexander, JC. 2004. "Cultural Pragmatics: Social Performance Between Ritual and Strategy." Sociological Theory. 22:4 527-573.
- Front its very beginnings, the social study of culture has been polarized between structuralist theories that treat meaning as a text and investigate the patterning that provides relative autonomy and pragmatist theories that treat meaning as emerging from the contingencies of individual and collective action-so-called practices-and that analyze cultural patterns as reflections of power and material interest. In this article, I present a theory of cultural pragmatics that transcends this division, bringing meaning structures, contingency, power, and materiality together in a new way. My argument is that the materiality of practices should be replaced by the more multidimensional concept Of performances. Drawing on the new field of performance studies, cultural pragmatics demonstrates how social performances, whether individual or collective, can be analogized systematically to theatrical ones. After defining the elements of social performance, I suggest that these elements have become ``de-fased'' as societies have become more complex. Performances are successful only insofar as they can ``re-fuse'' these increasingly disentangled elements. In a fused performance, audiences identify with actors, and cultural effective mise-en-scene. Performances fail when this scripts achieve verisimilitude through rethinking process is incomplete: the elements of performance remain, apart, and social action seems inauthentic and artificial, failing to persuade. Refusion, by contrast, allows actors to communicate the meanings of their actions successfully and thus to pursue their interests effectively.
- Meeks, C. 2001. "Civil Society and the Sexual Politics of Difference." Sociological Theory. 19:3 325-343.
- This paper discusses the sexual politics of anti-normalization within the context of the sociological discussions of civil society and the public sphere. The sexual politics of anti-normalization is less centered around ``identity'' as a means of securing group solidarity and representing sexual communities in civil society. A politics of anti-normalization comprehends identity as a means of normalizing and regulating sexual desire and difference. Anti-normalization entails the politicization of ethical-moral issues concerning sex and desire and the production of sexual differences beyond the usual opposition of heterosexuality to homosexuality. I discuss the ways that the theoretical discourses on civil society reduce conceptions of difference to identity and develop a framework for analyzing the sexual politics of difference ``beyond identity'' in the public sphere.
- Rabinovitch, E. 2001. "Gender and the Public Sphere: Alternative Forms of Integration in Nineteenth-century America." Sociological Theory. 19:3 344-370.
- This paper intends to evaluate two competing models of multicultural integration in stratified societies: the ``multiple publics'' model of Nancy Fraser and the ``fragmented public sphere'' model of Jeffrey Alexander. Fraser and Alexander disagree oil whether or not claims to a general ``common good'' or ``common humanity'' are democratically legitimate in light of systemic inequality. Fraser rejects the idea that cultural integration can be democratic in conditions of social inequality, while Alexander accepts it and tries to explain how it may be realized. In order to address this debate, I analyze the cultural foundations of the female-led, maternally themed social movements of nineteenth-century America. The language of these movements supports Alexander's position over Fraser's, though it also suggests that Alexander is mistaken in the specifics of his cultural theory of a general and democratic ``common good.'' While Alexander's model of integration is structured uniquely by what he and Philip Smith have called ``the discourse of civil society,'' the evidence suggests a distinctly alternative, equally democratic code at play in this case, which I have labeled a discourse of affection and compassion.
- Ku, AS. 2000. "Revisiting the Notion of ``public'' in Habermas's Theory - Toward a Theory of Politics of Public Credibility." Sociological Theory. 18:2 216-240.
- There exist around the notion of the public three different yet overlapping dichotomies posed on different levels of analysis: public (sphere) versus private (sphere), public versus mass, and publicness versus privacy/secrecy. Habermas's book (1989) incorporates all the three sets of dichotomy without resolving the contradictory meanings and bridging the gaps among them. As a result, his conception of the public sphere becomes paradoxical in terms, and it undertheorizes the cultural properties of publicness. This article proposes all alternative conception of the public that may encompass the structural, institutional, and cultural levels of theorization in a more precise and coherent way. It is argued that the public is an imagined category about citizen membership that is attached to both institutions of state and civil society: In political practices, a symbolic ``public'' is institutionalized through an open communicative space where it is called upon, constructed, and contested as the central source of cultural references. In this connection, a notion of public credibility is introduced as an attempt to bring forth a richer and more dynamic conception about the role of culture in democratic struggles than that of critical rationality by Habermas.
- Kane, AE. 1997. "Theorizing Meaning Construction in Social Movements: Symbolic Structures and Interpretation During the Irish Land War, 1879-1882." Sociological Theory. 15:3 249-276.
- Though the process of meaning construction is widely recognized to be a crucial factor in the mobilization, unfolding, and outcomes of social movements, the conditions and mechanisms that allow meaning construction and cultural transformation are often misconceptualized and/or underanalyzed. Following a ``tool kit'' perspective on culture, dominant social movement theory locates meaning only as it is embodied in concrete social practices. Meaning construction from this perspective is a matter of manipulating static symbols and meaning to achieve goals. I argue instead that meaning is located in the structure of culture, and that the condition and mechanism of meaning construction and transformation are, respectively, the metaphoric nature of symbolic systems, and individual and collective interpretation of those systems in the face of concrete events. This theory is demonstrated by analyzing, through textual analysis, meaning construction during the Irish Land War 1879-1882, showing how diverse social groups constructed new and emergent symbolic meanings and how transformed collective understandings contributed to specific, yet unpredictable, political action and movement outcomes. The theoretical model and empirical case demonstrates that social movement analysis must examine the metaphoric logic of symbolic systems and the interpretive process by which people construct meaning in order to fully explain the role of culture in social movements, the agency of movement participants, and the contingency of the course and outcomes of social movements.
- Jacobs, RN & P Smith. 1997. "Romance, Irony, and Solidarity." Sociological Theory. 15:1 60-80.
- Contemporary social theory has turned increasingly to concepts such as civil society, community, and the public sphere in order to theorize about the construction of vital, democratic, and solidaristic political cultures. The dominant prescriptions for attaining this end invoke the need for institutional and procedural reform, but overlook the autonomous role of culture in shaping and defining the forms of social solidarity. This article proposes a model of solidarity based on the two genres of Romance and Irony, and argues that these narrative forms offer useful vocabularies for organizing public discourse within and between civil society and its constituent communities. Whilst unable to sustain fully-inclusive and solidaristic political cultures on their own, in combination the genres of Romance and Irony allow for solidaristic forms built around tolerance, reflexivity, and intersubjectivity.
- Eliasoph, N. 1996. "Making a Fragile Public: a Talk-centered Study of Citizenship and Power." Sociological Theory. 14:3 262-289.
- Understanding how citizens create contexts for open-ended political conversation in everyday life is an important task for social research, The lack of theoretical attention to political conversation in the current renaissance of studies of ``civil society'' and ``the public sphere'' precludes a thoroughly social understanding of civic life. Participant-observation in U.S. recreational, volunteer, and activist groups shows how the very act of speaking itself comes to mean different things in different civic contexts. It shows dramatic contextual shifts-the more public the context, the less public-spirited the discourse. Institutions encouraged groups to avoid public, political conversation. One group challenged the dominant etiquette for citizenship; the others considered talking politics ``out of place'' almost everywhere. The ways groups relate to public speech itself are themselves meaningful; the concept of ``civic practices'' highlights how groups develop not just the power to make a particular political program public, but the power to make the public itself.
- Lichterman, P. 1995. "Beyond the Seesaw Model: Public Commitment in a Culture of Self-fulfillment." Sociological Theory. 13:3 275-300.
- Communitarian sociological theory and research of the past 30 years has often assumed that a growing culture of self-fulfillment, or `'personalism,'' is ultimately incompatible with commitment to the public good. This article argues that this `'seesaw model'' does not exhaust the possible relations between personalism and public commitment. It borrows insights from radical democratic theories to argue the existence of a form of public commitment that is enacted through, rather than impeded by, personalism. A cultural analysis that highlights everyday practices enables us to conceptualize this personalized form of public commitment, which goes unrecognized in communitarian accounts, and which gets discussed only in formal theoretical or social-psychological, terms in radical democratic theories. A case example of personalized public commitment in recent grass-roots environmentalism illustrates the limits in the seesaw model and speaks back to radical democratic theories of public commitment by illuminating how the individualized commitment they theorize may work in everyday cultural practice. I conclude with suggestions for further theoretical work on personalism.
- SOMERS, MR. 1995. "Whats Political or Cultural About Political-culture and the Public Sphere - Toward an Historical Sociology of Concept-formation." Sociological Theory. 13:2 113-144.
- The English translation of Habermas's The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere converges with a recent trend toward the revival of the `'political culture concept'' in the social sciences. Surprisingly, Habermas's account of the Western bourgeois public sphere has much in common with the original political culture concept associated with Parsonian modernization theory in the 1950s and 1960s. In both cases, the concept of political culture is used in a way that is neither political nor cultural. Explaining this peculiarity is the central problem addressed in this article and one to follow I hypothesize that this is the case because the concept itself is embedded in an historically constituted political culture (here called a conceptual network)-a structured web of conceptual relationships that combine into Anglo-American citizenship theory. The method of an historical sociology of concept formation is introduced to analyze historically and empirically the internal constraints and dynamics of this conceptual network. The method draws from new work in cultural history and sociology, social studies, and network, narrative, and institutional analysis. This research yields three empirical findings: this conceptual network has a narrative structure, here called the Anglo-American citizenship story; this narrative is grafted onto an epistemology of social naturalism; and these elements combine in a metanarrative that continues to constrain empirical research in political sociology.