So put Caitlyn Jenner and Australia’s Q and A together, what do they have in common?
Inevitably both define a place in society called ‘The Public Sphere”
Well, originally defined by the man who conceptualized the notion himself “Jürgen Habermas”,
The public sphere.
‘We call events and occasions ‘pub-lic’ when they are open to all, in contrast, to close or exclusive affairs’.
Or like he also liked to explain,
“Like an 18th-century coffee house”
But today, we can basically say the public sphere is ‘highly mediated’ representing a space, like an arena open for debating, deliberating and provoking many current societal issues, even if it’s just celebrity gossip, like the Kardashians.
I was told to consider where my possible public sphere is, and all I could think of was the train.
Now that my life is heavily revolved around University, I spend most of my time on the train, being rather mobile, therefore it has become a repetitive space for discussion and topics to rise.
On the daily, I meet up with my friends for the one and a half dreaded train ride to North Wollongong, and we either fall asleep or listen to music, but funnily most of the time we commute into a conversation about something that we found out on;
a) Probably Facebook
b) Probably Twitter
c) Our friends of friends of friends.
And we make sure we specifically don’t sit in the quiet carriage… (lesson learned from last time).
The train ride quickly becomes equip with our mobile phones, as we unknowingly start discussing, analyzing and synthesizing different images and posts across social media platforms, as well as arguing and legitimizing gossip that we’ve heard from a friend of a friend of a friend. Our actions are exactly what Habermas notes as ‘that the public is rooted in networks for the wild flows of messages, news, reports, commentaries, talks, scenes and images’, (Bruns, Highfield 2016).
‘Social media encourages different ways of engaging with or participating within public, civic communication, with “affective publics” (Papacharissi, 2015) bringing highly individual interpretations and framing to discussions, providing another dimension to ideas of ‘personal’ publics (Schmidt, 2014)’ (Bruns, Highfield 2016). In fact one train ride we will be discussing in agreement how much the high of life is better than the high of drugs, and another how crucial friendship is when our friends may reveal themselves as a homosexual.
We don’t recognize our small talk on the train to be so heavily revolved around social constructs, and controversial topics such as gender, sexuality, and drugs, but it’s riveting now that I find myself writing this blog, that I realize how much can be said and discussed in a train carriage on a Monday morning.
Burns, A & T Highfield, 2016, ‘Is Habermas on Twitter? Social Media and The Public Sphere’, The Routledge Companion to Social Media and Politics: Taylor and Francis, no 4, p8
Fuchs, C 2013, ‘Social Media, a critical introduction’, Sage Publications, viewed 30 March, 2018 <http://fuchs.uti.at/wp-content/smchapter8.pdf>