So no one told you media was going to be this way? *clap clap, clap clap*

Now, if you haven’t got the Friends theme song in your head already, I am very sorry. To begin, I introduce Jurgen Habermas, the man who created the public sphere theory. Habermas was another Marxist student of the Frankfurt School in Germany as previously mentioned in my post about media ownership. In 1962 he wrote the critical piece“The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere”. Habermas spells out the public sphere as being “made up of private people gathered together as a public and articulating the needs of society with the state” (p.176). This ‘imagined’ public sphere, according to Professor Sue Turnbull, is alike to an “18th century coffee house, a place for news and debate about ideas”.
This, of course, just conjures up the image of my favourite 6 television friends sitting around ‘Central Perk’ drinking coffee and complaining, talking, supporting… and dating each other. Their discussions were common concerns, separate from the state (mainly also from common sense). They had their own economy (made up of ego, embarrassment and personal jabs) and it was, in a sense, egalitarian and open. This is what Habermas had imagined.

Mmmm… Perky

Public discussions tend to find a way to create controversy, and thus, enticing further discussions. But in a modern public sphere who are excluded? For a long time it was the lower classes, and minorities that weren’t able to have a voice. One particular point I have started to realise is that the input of feminist, modern and powerful voices have been dulled, and brought down as unimportant and irrelevant in the public sphere of modern Australia. A highly mediated public sphere that raises and nurtures issues of feminism is rare to find. One that contributes to the basic equality debate in a equal and non-didactic way even so. Twitter has allowed itself to become a platform for public discussion about items like TV shows, events, world happenings, movies and social issues around the world.

Essentially Twitter is a public sphere, an online coffee house if you will, and it is the epitome of private people gathering to make something public and showing the needs of a society. This can be seen by the involvement of tweets whilst TV shows such as “Q and A” on ABC, Nine’s “The Block” and the ever constant ‘live-tweeting’ award shows such as The Logies and The Oscars. As open as these seem, they are a mediated type of public forum, with the tweets having to go through mediators before being aired. “Q and A”  and the ABC have even been accused of censoring tweets from the public about public matters which I find ironic, yet they willingly let through controversial transphobic comments and immature homophobic tweets.

Oh you have an opinion not supported by the ABC? Image by wolfcat

Twitter’s hash tag system makes it so much easier to access a wide range of audiences all engaged with a type of media and everyone can have an opinion. This is the future of our public spheres, the coffee shop of the 21st century. I might stick with twitter but to really get into Habermas’s theory, maybe I’ll iView this weeks “QandA” with a latte, a tweet and an honest opinion.

What shows do you watch and either tweet along to or discuss with friends?

References –

5 thoughts on “So no one told you media was going to be this way? *clap clap, clap clap*

  1. Great post, you’ve essentially given a brief summation on the evolution of the public sphere! Through the advancement in technology we now have several different platforms in which we can raise our opinions and debate on topics.
    I have a question, do you think that twitter is the answer to the lack of a place for feminist issues and points of view? In my opinion it could be even easier to dismiss comments on twitter and continue in our bias and naïve ways. I hope this makes sense haha.
    Finally the technology advancements again have essentially enabled almost everyone to “have their say”, do you think this is a healthy feature of an already diluted public sphere? It would be great to hear your thoughts.
    Also, now I really feel the need to go on a great procrastination rampage thanks to those Friends references!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Simon, I don’t think Twitter is the only answer to the lack of feminist spaces, but I do think that it allows a wider range of voices to be heard. Through catchy hashtags such as #freethenipple and #yesallwomen it allows an ability to widen feminist theory and for more people to listen.
      In regards to a healthy, free public space it is hard, but in the end it comes down to an ability to maintain freedom of speech, with respects to basic moral and ethical reasoning.
      Thank you so much for you feedback


  2. I love this post because it is well researched, well written and attacked this particular topic in a completely different way to me, I love the alternate perspective. I love FRIENDS too, so that’s a positive way to start 😉 I did, however, also stumble across the dulled feminist voices in public spheres – something I never even considered until I began to study it. I mean, politics and voting is a public sphere, and us ladies only got that right last century, so it’s of little surprise that our opinions and beliefs would be shut down before they reached a public forum. If you’re interested, I found this article really interesting (and slightly terrifying) on the topic.

    You write beautifully, well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey Maddy, awesome post!

    For me, this literal “coffee shop” style public sphere is the only one I feel is totally un-mediated. Factors ranging from politeness, censorship policies and legal consequences, all influence my own Internet presence – and I assume, many others. Our focus on reputation and representation is paramount to the way we project ourselves through social media, however it is also a major principle upheld by sites themselves, such as Facebook and Instagram. As recently as April 13th 2015, Facebook took down a video of Aboriginal women performing one of their traditional ceremonies, because it did not comply with its “nudity guidelines.” Instagram has also been at the target of criticism through its nudity double standards – which has sparked protest campaigns such as Free the Nipple.

    On a more personal level, I have become aware of my own hesitation to upload controversial opinions on sites such as Facebook, as I fear I may offend or cop backlash – in this sense, we can also be our own mediators.

    Another reason to cherish face-to-face interaction! Thanks for writing such a thoughtful post.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Really liked your description of the public sphere and the economy surrounding it as well as your take on who is being excluded from the current public sphere!

    I agree that the voices of women aren’t shown as being as important, whilst equality is such an important issue, the politicians that are in control and able to enact real change are predominantly male, with females making up just 29.2% of the total number of parliamentarians in the commonwealth parliament. The Parliament of Australia has a great study on the representation of women in Australian parliament if you were interested!

    Also the way that Julia Gillard was treated in her position as Prime Minister, her misogyny speech- which did bring up so many valid points- was brushed off by Tony Abbott as being ‘invalid’ and an ‘unfair’ in his appearance on an Australian cooking show.

    A question that arises from your point about censorship through the ABC and Q&A is that is it still a public sphere if a government funded program is so highly involved (with the typical public sphere being separate from the state)?

    Some references in case you were wondering where I got my information from!

    Tony Abbott, Kitchen Cabinet with Annabel Crabb 2013, television program, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Australia, 4 September.

    Dr McCann J & Wilson J, 2012, Representations of women in Australian parliaments, Department of Parliamentary services, viewed 20 April 2015

    Liked by 1 person

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