Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Ramblings on DeLuca & Peeples

Jurgen Habermas comes up with the term, "public sphere," which is defined as a interlude between civil society and the state as a whole. It acts as a place where individual citizens can gather and join in rational-critical debate to aggregate public opinion. DeLuca and Peeples comes up with the term, "public screen," which is defined as a space in which "public discussions take place via 'screens'--television, computer, and the front page of newspapers" (131). DeLuca and Peeples argues that the public sphere has transformed into the public screen due to the new technologies of the present--I agree.

In Habermas's time, people actually sat down--physically--in salons and had discussions about different topics of the state. People don't necessarily do this very often in the present--physically sit down in a cafe and discuss deep democratic issues. (Don't get me wrong--I'm sure it happens...just not very often.)  Instead, this debate of opinions occurs more online. I think the most clear example of this for me is Twitter. In light of the current election, and Obama's victory, I searched #Obama on Twitter and up came a ridiculous amount of tweets concerning Obama's victory--both positive and negative tweets. I think in this way, people are engaging rational-critical debate, just through a different interface.

Something that stuck out to me in the DeLuca and Peeples reading was Susan Sontag's quote: "'Industrial societies turn their citizens into image-junkies...turn experience itself into a way of event has come to mean, precisely, something worth photographing" (133). This quote made me think of Facebook and the notion that people do things and participate in events to take pictures and then post them on Facebook. Another example of this occured to me in this summer when I worked at a Public Relations agency. The first day of work, a signed Derrick Rose basketball jersey came into the office to be used as an item in a silent auction for an event. Knowing that my brother is very interested in the NBA, I quickly texted him with this news. He replied, "Pic or it didn't happen." I believe that this phrase is a direct example of Sontag's quote above. Even little events turn into something worth photographing. It is merely not enough to just ave an event exist as it is.


  1. Christine, I completely agree with you in that the transformation of the public sphere into the public screen is in full effect today. Everything nowadays seems to be discussed through a medium, with internet being the main one. I'd like to point out that with the lack of to person-person discourse comes the increasing chances of falsification of sources. This anonymity brings into question the legitimacy of communication on the internet and other media. We must always have this in the back of our mind. We must not take everything for what it is, even on social media sites like Facebook that claim legitimacy in its users. Here's a current article on Facebook's problem of fake accounts that sparked this comment:

  2. I think it's worth clarifying that the transition from public sphere to public screen described by DeLuca and Peeples is not a complete replacement of one by the other. The two can still coexist today, even though the screen may be the more dominant of the two. For instance, I remember watching some of the 2008 vice-presidential debate at Bobby G's pizzeria in downtown Berkeley, with a crowd of other people (mostly strangers), who booed, laughed, and clapped at the candidates' responses. Literary "salons" may not be all that common anymore, but there are still plenty of political and intellectual "meet-ups" as well as rallies, protests, and marches.