Javnost - The Public, Vol. 19 - 2012, No. 3
This article takes forward a “new” agenda for online deliberation (Wright 2012), by setting out in detail the concept of third space: non-political online spaces where political talk emerges. The concept of third space is heavily influenced by, but ultimately grounded in a critique of, Oldenburg’s (1999) concept of the third place. Rather than thinking about what virtual equivalents of a third place might look like, this article reconsiders the concept in the context of the Internet and thus differs in several of its conclusions. First, the article sets out the case for studying informal political talk in third spaces. It is argued that this necessitates broad definitions of the political and inclusive definitions of deliberation. Second, each of Oldenburg’s core characteristics of third place are presented, critiqued, and, where necessary, reformulated for the online context. In so doing, the article provides a theoretically informed framework that can be used to study third spaces while also contributing to the broader debates about the nature of political debate online.
Types of Interaction on Israeli Political Radio Phone-in Programmes and their Relations to the Public Sphere
This paper typifies the different interactions on Israeli public stations political radio phone-in programmes. Based on general features of the interaction and of the host perceptions, six different types of interaction were found. The different types can be distinguished by two aspects, whether the interaction is based on agreement or disagreement and whether the participants engage each other in the interaction. The most prominent type of interaction is a two-sided disagreement interaction, in which hosts and callers argue about issues and problems. A similar type is that of the neutral interaction, in which hosts try to avoid expressing their opinions. Other types of interactions also occur in the programmes, yet hosts often remark on their occurrence. These remarks serve to explain the interaction to the audience, to justify the hosts’ behaviour, and to reprimand or compliment the caller. These remarks also suggest that hosts see these types as non-normative interactions, when compared to the two-sided disagreement and neutral interactions. The normative categories go hand in hand with the demands of a public sphere, showing that political radio phone-in programmes in Israel contribute to the public sphere and to its democratic life.
Is contemporary media ecology an ecology that offers unprecedented freedom for producing participators, the “prod-users,” or could it also be understood as an ecology in which various forms of user participation are in fact conditioned, or manufactured, by professional producers? Considering the increasing research attention paid to various notions of user participation, these questions become important. This article critically discusses the theorising of mediated participation by illustrating and analysing ways in which users’ participatory practices in fact can be both conditioned and formatted by producers making strategic use of participatory opportunities. By drawing on an ethnographically inspired case study of a web company, Moderskeppet, this analysis reveals how the actual possibilities for participation thoroughly are conditioned by producers. The paper also analyses strategies and techniques applied by the producers to create a sense of participation among users.
Which European Public Sphere? Normative Standards and Empirical Insights from Multilingual Switzerland
Since the beginning of the 1990s, the EU has been increasingly criticised for its democratic deficit, which is intrinsically linked to the absence of a public sphere at the European level. Whereas scholars consider the emergence of such a public sphere as a necessary requirement for the democratisation of the EU, they disagree on the conceptualisation and normative requirements for a meaningful public sphere at the European level. This article takes an empirical perspective and draws on the nation-state context of multilingual Switzerland to get insights into what a European public sphere might realistically look like. Based on a content analysis of the leading quality paper from each German- and French-speaking Switzerland by means of political claims analysis, it shows that three of the most often cited criteria for a European public sphere – horizontal openness and interconnectedness, shared meaning structures, and inclusiveness – are hardly met in the Swiss context. On this basis, it concludes that the normative barrier for finding a European public sphere might be unrealistically high and should be reconsidered.
Celebrities’ Quest for a Better World: Understanding Flemish Public Perceptions of Celebrities’ Societal Engagement
Although one of the main aims of celebrities’ societal engagement is to grab the attention of a wide audience for a social cause, research about public perceptions of the phenomenon is scarce. This study wants to gain a theoretical and empirical insight into the possible influence of celebrities’ engagements on the general population. An internet survey among a sample of one thousand Flemish adults was conducted to ascertain which celebrities are considered to support social causes and how the general population perceives this phenomenon. Results show a select group of celebrity supporters, i.e. those in a deeply engaged role or with a considerable track record of engagement, to be the most popular. While most respondents consider such celebrity engagements to make a significant contribution to social-profit organisations’ goals, scepticism about the celebrities’ motives is apparent. Young adults and celebrity news followers, traditionally less involved in social causes, demonstrate a more positive attitude towards celebrity engagement than older respondents. As such, celebrities’ societal engagement might be advantageous in reaching thus far uninterested parts of society.