« All articles from this issue

Democratic Rhetoric and The Duty of Deliberation, Vol. 8 - 2001, No. 3

The Habermasian Public Sphere Encounters Cyber-Reality

, pages: 83-96

A number of Internet-democracy commentators have proposed that online communications may facilitate the Habermasian public sphere of communicative rationality. In contrast, Mark Poster and other cyber-postmodernists claim that this public sphere notion is "outmoded" in relation to online practices. They argue that cyberspace represents a "hyperreality" in which the rational subject is radically decentred. As such, cyber-postmodernists argue, cyberspace undermines communicative rationality and the public sphere. The concept is seen to be useless for evaluating democratic interaction through the Internet. In this paper I evaluate this argument by exploring actual cyberspace experiences of selfhood and by looking further at the notion of communicative rationality. My investigation shows that the Internet does indeed alter interactions in new ways, but that the changes that result are not as radically hyperreal as some cyber-theorists claim, and, furthermore, that these changes are able to be taken into account by the public sphere conception.

pdf icon Full text PDF | quote icon Export Reference | permalink icon

« All articles from this issue