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

Fake Democracy: The Limits of Public Sphere Theory

, pages: 28-34

Liberal democracy has been eviscerated, hollowed out from within and emptied of liberalisms many promises that have failed to materialise. Meanwhile inequality has increased exponentially, ecological crisis beckons and the often unaccountable power of elites (in politics, media, finance, corporations, etc.) increases dramatically. As citizens feel evermore cut adrift from the decisions that make their lives livable so global capital continues to prosper and shape politics. At the same time, the digital age gives us information abundance and unprecedented connectivity. This article considers the critical question: is public sphere theory adequate to address the political, democratic and economic crises we now face? Can a concept dependent on a liberal democratic frame that is now so undone really offer a critical perspective suggestive of democratic futures or is it rather holding us back, capturing us in the comfort zones of liberalism offering no more than fake democracy and in the process threatening to hinder critical theory’s ability to better imagine emancipatory futures?

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