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Showing posts from June, 2012

The 'Public Sphere' and Public Life.

The notion of a ‘public sphere’, developed in the work of Jürgen Habermas (1974), is an important touchstone for social theorists of democracy and public life.   It has given rise to a critical literature that engages with the concept of a ‘public sphere’ and seeks to assess its historical validity and contemporary relevance. This discussion has developed parallel to wider debates on the public/private distinction, the interrelationship between the public realm and private life , and the organization of public and private spaces.  The present review will group the literature in terms of approach and delineate common points of analysis and areas of contestation, moving onto a detailed analysis of selected texts that can offer guidance for future research on the contemporary utility of the concept of the ‘public sphere’.

Coffee and Black Label

Or, how to deal with writing the literature review chapter of your thesis.

Social Capital, Civic Engagement and The Internet.

 “[T]he United States also has undergone a less sanguine transformation: its citizens have become remarkably less civic, less politically engaged, less socially connected, less trusting, and less committed to the common good.  At the dawn of the millennium Americans are fast becoming a loose aggregation of disengaged observers, rather than a community of connected participants.” 
 -Robert D. Putnam, ‘Civic Disengagement in Contemporary America’.
Putnam’s thesis is that American society has undergone a decline in social capital and civic engagement, caused by a declining rate of generational replacement, technological innovations, spatial reorganization of cities and the growth of suburban developments. Social capital refers to the networks and social resources people draw upon in their quotidian lives for support, and it has been positively correlated with better health, wealth and political outcomes for individuals and communities.  Despite recognised benefits, Putman argues, since th…