Jürgen Habermas’ Idea of the Public Sphere Essay

Jürgen Habermas’ Idea of the Public Sphere Essay

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Jürgen Habermas’ idea of the “public sphere” is considered a communications revolution because it allowed for the transfer of information and ideas. This free flow of communication that grew out of the public opinion would allow democracy to prevail as it provided checks on powerful groups in society and allowed for critical discussions. Although Habermas’ notion of this democratic mechanism allowed for citizens to play a larger role in society, it ignored those who were not property owning white men of high prestige. In counter to Habermas’ ideas, Nancy Fraser coined the concept of a “subaltern counterpublic”. Subaltern counterpublics are spaces for democratic conversation for those who have been left out of the public sphere. Power in society has often been given to white men, leaving out the needs and wants of minorities, women and people of color. Fraser’s concept of a subaltern counterpublic provides a way for these groups to create discourses different than those that are portrayed in the mainstream media. NASPA, the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, is an association that develops, advocates and aids members of the student affairs profession. This association features what they call Knowledge Communities, which are smaller groups that provide support and networks for specific topics and similarities that their members have. The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Knowledge Community (GLBT) housed by NASPA is a subaltern counterculture because it provides a space for a margined community to create a discourse that is parallel to the dominant discourse that mainstream media creates. Although gender and sexuality have increasingly become a part of mainstream culture, and is often discussed at large in domi...


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... outside the “norm” of society because of their increased mental health problems and is talked about in a way that makes their sexuality a defining factor that dictates their mental health status.
By examining the inclusive and open space that the subaltern counterpublic of NASPA’s GLBT Knowledge Community provides for members, it is seen how they include one’s sexuality as just another part of one’s identity. In CNS News and The New York Daily News’ articles it can be seen how mainstream media has a dominant discourse that separates the GLBT community from society solely because their sexual identity. The goal of subaltern counterpublics is to provide alternative spaces for members to discuss what is ignored or misrepresented in mainstream media, such as the GLBT community being separate from the rest of society because their sexuality is seen as a defining trait.

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