The “public sphere” is generally conceived as the social space in which different opinions are expressed, problems of general concern are discussed, and collective solutions are developed communicatively. Thus, the public sphere is the central arena for societal communication. In large-scale societies, mass media and, more recently, online network media support and sustain communication in the public sphere.
Requirements for the Public Sphere

Jürgen Habermas is a prominent scholar of the Public sphere.

His ideal of the public sphere is to a large extent captured by the "requirements" (or expectations) for the Public Space, as summarized by the German Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in his Speech at the opening of the eleventh Bellevue Forum “Democracy and the digital public sphere – A transatlantic challenge” (March 1, 2021): So much is expected of the public sphere in a democracy. It must reflect the plurality of society and be accessible to all, foster reasoned debate, open up spaces for new ideas and political goals, provide reliable information and empower people to participate responsibly in democratic processes. These ideals have guided us since the Enlightenment.

These expectations are included in the figure.


Source and further reading:

  • Hartmut Wessler, Rainer Freudenthaler (2018) Public Sphere, Oxford Bibliographies, url
  • Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Speech at the opening of the eleventh Bellevue Forum “Democracy and the digital public sphere – A transatlantic challenge” (March 1, 2021) url

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