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Javnost - The Public, Vol. 19 - 2012, No. 3

From “Third Place” to “Third Space”: Everyday Political Talk in Non-Political Online Spaces

, pages: 5-20

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.

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