Jurgen Habermas defined the concept of the ‘Public Sphere’ as ‘a realm of our social life in which something approaching public opinion can be formed’. He saw it as a sphere that mediates between society and state, to be legimate public opinion must be formed on a platform that is generally accessible, free of all privileges and discovers norms and rational legitimations.
The Stephen Nolan Discussion Show
- The show supported the concept of the public sphere, in the ‘free from privileges’ sense. The callers and radio panelists did not necessarily speak the received pronunciation that we have come to expect from much of BBC Radio.
- However the lack of rational among many of the callers and the talking over of each other between the hosts and callers did not support Habermas’ concept.
- A reasoning public viewership could certainly not be presupposed when listening to the show, mere opinions were offered that at times seemed racist and homophobic.
- Though the callers are able to discuss matters in an unrestricted fashion, the lack of sensibility and education among some of them disagrees with the concept of the public sphere, at least within the show.
BBC World Service – World Have Your Say
- The show aims to create a global conversation, using many forms of networking such as email and Twitter, it creates a platform.
- The topics discussed as well as the manner and tone do suggest ‘private individuals assembling to form a public body’. For example, a writer from the Wall St. Journal was brought in to discuss Syria.
- This agrees with Habermas and rather than being elitist, the show is open to anyone. The public contributors influence the discussion, though rational legitimations could be found from both the hosts and callers.
- In short, the show agrees with the concept of the public sphere as specialist private individuals are brought in to discuss topics and the public also have their chance to express their opinion also.
- The show is located on Radio 4 so a particular class and demographic
BBC Radio 4 – Any Questions Any Answers
- The show is located on Radio 4 so a particular demographic in terms of listener was obvious from the callers.
- In sense it may disagree with Habermas’ concept, as though the show is open to anyone, there was not one caller that sounded ‘working class’.
- However it was not the bourgeoisie ‘transacting private affairs’ but rather a selection individuals relating to the public through the host.
- The panelists frankly discussed matters such as drug use free from social or legal constraints. This would tie in and agree with the concept of the public sphere.