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Habermas defined the 18th century bourgeoisie deliberations in London coffee houses the public sphere. A place where rational-minded, working class men set aside their self-interest and engaged in coercion free communication as means to reach consensus on political issues. This is an appealing, idealistic concept that came under scrutiny by many who cited the humanity aspect of decision making and difficulty in finding such informed and involved people.

Keeping this 20th century Marxist idealization in mind, is there a place for sentiments in the public sphere? Are we as a world capable of staying engaged enough in serious politics? Or has our post-modern mass media and technology seduced us toward something more entertaining and scandalous? Do the answers to these questions point to a doomed and distracted society or deeper cultural interests?

Briggs, Asa, et al. A Social History of the Media: from Gutenberg to Facebook. 4th ed., Polity Press, 2020.

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