The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry Into a Category of Bourgeois Society (Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought)
This is Jürgen Habermas's most concrete historical-sociological book and one of the key contributions to political thought in the postwar period. It will be a revelation to those who have known Habermas only through his theoretical writing to find his later interests - in problems of legitimation, of rationalization, and of communicative action foreshadowed in this lucid study of the origins, nature, and evolution of public opinion in democratic societies.
Among the topics discussed are the origins of the category of "publicity" in the 18th-century, the rise of social institutions like newspapers, coffeehouses, and reading societies that provided for the formation and articulation of public opinion, and the way in which public opinion came to be assigned specific political responsibilities within liberal democracies.
Habermas's concern is with the rise of a politically active and informed public in England, France, and Germany, and the declining role of that public with the emergence of modern social welfare states. His ultimate subject, and the focus of his later work is the possibility of democracy under the radically changed socioeconomic, political, and cultural conditions of present day society.
Jürgen Habermas is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Frankfurt. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere is included in the series Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought edited by Thomas McCarthy.
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