Sunday, November 16, 2014

Fraser's "Rethinking the Public Sphere" and a multiplicity of publics

In "Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracies" Nancy Fraser discusses four assumptions that Habermas makes in his conception of the public sphere. Assumption number two is "that the proliferation of a multiplicity of competing publics is necessarily a step away from, rather than toward, greater democracy, and that a single, comprehensive public sphere is always preferable to a nexus of multiple publics" (62). Fraser re-examines this assumptions and believes that stratified societies benefit more from multi-publics and what she calls subaltern counterpublics.

I found the concept of subaltern counterpublics interesting, especially in the example that Fraser gives of feminist fighting for a larger public awareness of rape and sexual violence. She explains these feminist movements first had to begin in a counterpublic before it gained acceptance and awareness by a larger public.

Although I agree with Fraser, I find a multiplicity of publics necessary, I wonder what the limitations of having such stratified publics are. In other words, not all publics are going to be viewed in the same way, so wouldn't that create a power structure that not all counterpublics may not be able to overcome?

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