Haberman imagined the public sphere as a place that was like an 18th century coffee house. This was because it was a place to get the news and debate about ideas and common concerns. He defined the ‘ideal’ public sphere as a ‘space’ that was seperate from the state as well as seperate from the official economy. It was egalitarian and open, which I found strange as it was a space that mainly consisted of the middle class, excluding women and other minorities.
The article states how computer-mediated discussion has taken the place of coffee house discourse. This makes a lot of sense because as our lives are becoming increasingly more enveloped by technology, and with more people having access to the web to participate in discussion on blogs for example, it is even more open than Haberman’s imagined public sphere. One would only be excluded if they did not have access to the internet.
The public sphere can control what your discourse is, such as in nazi Germany, where in public one would not dare discuss any negative attitudes towards the Nazi party. This was not Haberman’s ideal public sphere, but quite the opposite, as it was not egalitarian and open.
Under democracy the public is supposed to engage in discussion about societal problems, and issues from the environment to the president, and the government is supposed to listen and take concerns of the people into consideration.
The basic ideal belief in public sphere theory is that the government’s laws and policies should be steered by the public sphere and that the only legitimate governments are those that listen to the public sphere. “Democratic governance rests on the capacity of and opportunity for citizens to engage in enlightened debate.” – wiki
It is very easy to feel that our opinions do not matter, but discussion and communication of these opinions are very important things in our lives. It often feels as if the powers that be are not listening to us, this is because they are not in the same public sphere as the common person. How could these politicians in power ever relate to us? They live totally different lives in every aspect.
Even so, the public sphere is an important tool for relating to people and finding comfort in knowing your opinion is shared.