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The Liquefaction of Publicness: Communication, Democracy and the Public Sphere in the Internet Age, Vol. 25 - 2018, No. 1

Debunking Deference: The Delusions of Unmediated Reality in the Contemporary Public Sphere

, pages: 11-19

To compensate for the lack of realism of the participatory models of the public sphere, this paper proposes a more minimalist conceptualisation, which emphasises the ontological necessity of representation and deference in the constitution of imagined communities. In the contemporary public spheres, permeated with distrust, representation and deference are becoming synonymous with deception and estrangement. Debunking institutional mediations and political representation, both the “hacktivist” movement Anonymous and the populist leadership of D. Trump yearn to erase any lingering traces of deference. In doing so, I will argue, they endanger the democratic construction of a common world between strangers and erode the pluralist structure of the public sphere.

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