Javnost - The Public, Vol. 12 - 2005, No. 2
It has been emphasised that in the Ottoman society there was no public sphere in its .political. sense, at least until the nineteenth century. The importance of a cultural interpretation of this sphere has been ignored by sociologists, too. Sociological studies of the old urban publicness were restricted to historians. analysis, and a culturalistic view of sociology has been lacking. In this article I discuss this issue by focusing on the publicness created by the Ottoman coffeehouses. The public sphere that emerged was of course not similar to the rational and rather elitist understanding of the concept. The coffeehouses, which were part of the Ottoman public sphere, represented the complex everyday realities of that public life, the political and cultural contest and negotiations within the Ottoman society.
Contrary to Orientalist interpretations, authoritarian political practices are inconsistent with the axial Asian philosophies, which implicitly call for a socially responsible critical press (communication outlets). This is certainly the case with Buddhist philosophy. Confucianism and Hinduism also do not endorse authoritarianism. First, this essay analyzes each of these philosophies to show their disapproval of actions that enhance state authority and central control against people’s wellbeing. Second, it identifies the probable reasons for the discrepancy between the ethico-political orientations of the main Asian philosophies and the authoritarian press practice prevalent in much of Asia and elsewhere, namely, (a) the failure of the Westcentric modernisation paradigm to uplift the .sovereign nation-states. in the periphery of the modern world-system, which grew out of the erstwhile colonial empires; (b) the appeal of continuing with the colonial tradition of governing through coercive and autocratic institutions to suppress public criticism; and (c) the impact of Orientalism, which caused the rulers of the new .nation-states. to misconstrue or ignore the principles embodied in Asian philosophies. Thus, political-economic reality appears to have superseded the ethico-political orientations of Asian philosophies in engendering the putative Asian model of development. However, because concepts such as freedom, democracy, authoritarianism, and social responsibility evoke different connotations in the West and the East, Freedom House’s ranking of countries based on Westcentric criteria is debatable.
Outsourcing of jobs, particularly the growing practice of sending the jobs of U.S. knowledge and communication sector workers to other countries, has become a significant issue in academic, policy and media circles. The paper begins by defining knowledge workers and summarising debates about their significance dating from the 1950s. Next it considers prevailing views about the problem which centre on the fear of massive job loss to low-wage nations like India and China and prevailing solutions offered by labour- stop outsourcing wherever possible, and by business outsourcing can only be curtailed when business and labour grow smarter. Each of these views conveys an essential truth but each deals only with symptoms of a significant transformation in the international division of labour. Understanding this transformation, and the role of information and communication technologies, leads us to consider key dimensions in the complexity of outsourcing: developed nations like Canada and Ireland have benefited as recipients of outsourced jobs; less developed nations like India are not just recipients of outsourced jobs, they are beginning to lead the process; in spite of ‘end of geography’ promises, place matters and culture counts; and, finally, resistance takes a multiplicity of forms.
If there is no such thing as a European Public Sphere (EPS), why don.t we construct one? The answer seems to be obvious: There is no way one could construct a public sphere top-down since it depends on the active participation of speakers, the media and audience. In a democratic society they are free to deliberate with whom and about what they want. This article does not challenge the Habermasian notion of a public sphere evolving from the free discourse of the citizens. Nevertheless, the evolution of a public sphere is also structured by incentives and constraints imposed from above. The European Union structures the EPS as a polity as well as through its policies and politics. While it is true that different policies such as media policy and all cultural policies matter for the public sphere, this paper concentrates on the Commission’s information policy as it constitutes the most direct link between the institution and the EPS. Seven different strategies of information policy will be presented which vary in their potential of creating or suppressing the evolution of a democratic public sphere. The extremes are marked by propaganda and arcane policy on the one hand and dialogue and transparency on the other hand. While the Commission pursued arcane policies for a long time, its approach to information has changed during the last decade. A change of paradigm might be under way but the legacy of European policy without Öffentlichkeit constraints all attempts at pursuing more democratic information policies aimed at strengthening the public sphere.
Numerous empirical studies have measured to what degree national mass media arenas in Europe converge in terms of news agendas, ways of framing, and reporting political claims from other countries or EU actors. This article suggests explaining such outputoriented findings with a theoretical model of mechanisms that link different mass media arenas. It is derived from national settings, where mass media arenas are also highly fragmented and yet sufficiently interlinked to be considered a public sphere. The most prominent mechanism is news agencies providing similar input to many arenas. The article draws attention to an under-investigated mechanisms of cooperation, mutual observation, and inter-referencing between different media outlets. Empirical evidence about press reviews in several European countries is presented here for the first time. The daily practice of radio stations, newspapers, or websites, to explicitly quote commentaries or news from other media is found to be a routine in many countries, and it often crosses national borders. The results suggest that the ‘opinion geography’ of press reviews differs from the usual .news geography. in European media, frequently entailing a Europeanised perspective on whose views are seen as relevant.
From a theoretical point of view concepts of critical counter publicity are again widely discussed. However, both the socio-political relevance as well as the empirical dimension of this process . e.g. in how far counter-public spheres turn out to be a source of democratic public in reality . are mostly left out of consideration in the scientific discourse. The article first reconstructs descriptive and normative opinions on counter-public from a media-based perspective, and elaborates on the relationship between the public sphere, counter-public spheres, and new media. Then it discusses the potential of counter-public activities to revive the public sphere, particularly in the framework of the European Union. Two case studies of Europeanwide counter-public spheres are presented: the collective Luther Blissett and the network organisation of Attac. Their structural characteristics such as transnationality, network structure, and anti-copyright stance generate a new trans-European form of collective identity. As a result, the European integration may also gain (unintentionally) a new momentum.