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  • To Eric Miller's homepage

    Submitted in December 1999 for the course, Public Space,
    at the University of Pennsylvania.  (This paper is approximately30 pages.) 

    "Why and How Has 'Habermas' Become a Household Word inthe Social Sciences?"

    by Eric Miller

    Jürgen Habermas is one of the most referred to, most famous, mostprominent social scientists of the day.  This paper explores the questionsof why and how Jürgen Habermas has risen to this exalted state. To answer these questions, the paper takes three steps: first, the paperattempts to supply some answers to the general question of how and whyindividuals, especially cultural leaders -- intellectuals, artists, scholars,writers -- become well-known; second, some data is presented testifyingto Habermas's prominence; and finally, the paper supplies some answersto the questions of why and how Jürgen Habermas in particular hasbecome prominent. 

    As the reader will have noticed, the title of the paper refers to Habermas'sname as being a household word within a section of academia.  A householdword is something that is indispensable to homelife, an intimate part ofeveryday life.  It is always on the tip of one's tongue and easilyaccessible to one's conscious mind.  Household words refer to thingsthat, like appliances, are kept within easy reach and are often usefulfor many purposes.  To use his name to represent his ideas, to referto his name as a household item, and to speak of a section of academiaas a home are all folksy, teasing, and playful transgressions of the sharpdistinction between the private (the realm of the home, the intimate, theemotional) and the public (the realm of the rational) that Habermas hasinsisted upon.  For this, my apologies to Dr. Habermas! 

    I.  Theories of Prominence

    What, then, are some theories of prominence?  In ScientificElite:Nobel Laureates in the United States,Harriet Zuckerman makesa strong case for the phenomena of "cumulative advantage."1  Thisis a process by which "advantages in...occupational spheres accumulatewhen certain individuals or groups repeatedly receive resources and rewardsthat enrich the recipients at an accelerating rate and conversely impoverish(relatively) the non-recipients."2   Achievers of scientificprominence typically go though the following stages (not necessarily inthis order): ideally one is born into an intellectual and/or professionalfamily, shows early promise, and "through a series of interlocking selectiveprocesses, becomes affiliated with elite universities and research institutes."3 The achiever gains sponsorships and patrons, acquires an identity, getsnoticed, and develops a growing reputation.  "The careers of prospectivelaureates are marked by early and copious production of published work."4 

    Statistically-speaking, an early start is all-important:  "Themost striking fact in the process of self-selection is that future membersof the ultra-elite were clearly tuned into the scientific network earlyin their careers"5: they were exposed at an early stage to the major channelsof communication about new developments in their fields.  Once oneis in the in-crowd, one can benefit from "informal word-of-mouth communicationabout who is doing what."6 

    At each successive step, "One must be ordained by a governing body."7 This is often necessary in order to study with a member of the elite. Training by the elite is a scarce commodity, and for a combination of socialand intellectual reasons, it often pays off.  Over half of Nobel laureateshave studied under Nobel laureates.  Cumulative advantage is a processof sociological inbreeding, an associative process.  As one scientistput it, "I never argue with third-rate scientists, only with the first-rate."8 

    One way that cumulative advantage works is that once a person is rewardedin some way, that reward can often lead to increased access to resources,and "recipients of resources are more likely to achieve."9  Most important for the accumulation of advantage is new facilities andopportunities for work.  These new opportunities may come in the formsof ability to publish; access to first-rate research facilities, studentsand colleagues; and free time.  Once in place, a scholar finds itrelatively easy to advance his/her research interests, as he/she is nowin a gate-keeping position (as editors, panelists on boards that give awards,etc.), and are able to influence how resources are to be allocated, andto whom. 

    Training with the elite is generally not a matter of learning facts,but of learning "styles of thinking."10  "The most important eventin the life of a young scientist is personal contact with the great scientistsof his time...  I learned that the scientist must have the courageto attack the great unsolved problems of his time, and that solutions usuallyhave to be forced by carrying out innumerable experiments without muchcritical hesitation."11  "Looking back on their apprenticeships, thelaureates typically emphasize that they were able to acquire a better senseof the significant problem."12  Masters "had a knack for finding whatwas important to look into."13  "Among the elite scientists, the primecriteria of scientific taste are a sense for the 'important problem' andan appreciation of stylish solutions.  For them, the ability to identifythese things distinguishes excellent science from the merely competentor commonplace."14  Largely through observation, students acquirethis sense of intellectual taste. 

    The process described above can be seen in part as one of social control. In The Celebration of Heroes: Prestige as a Social Control System,WilliamGoode explains how "individuals and groups give and withhold prestige andapproval as a way of rewarding or punishing others."15  "Prestigepatterns of reward and punishment can induce at least behavioral conformityand perhaps attitudinal change as well."16  "We are most likely toact in a certain way if the schedule of rewards seems a good risk. It would be irrational to do otherwise."17  "Social action is mostlyset into motion by values and norms, attitudes and evaluations, since thesethings express or describe what people feel is worth doing; and, whereverthese evaluations may come from ultimately, each individual acquires themin a continuing process of socialization and social control."18  Certainwork is recognized and rewarded, while other work is ignored: these patternsare quite easy to discern. 

    One problem with this model, however, is that it does not account forhow the radically new is introduced.  One theory involving the introductionof the new is supplied by public relations specialists.  From thisperspective, to gain prominence one must "interrupt the continuity of lifein some way, to bring about the media response."19  "News is any overtact which juts out of the routine of normal circumstance."20 

    According to the public relations creed, in developing a public persona,"No organization can afford to let the climate of attitudes develop byaccident or through outside forces.  It must work to create its ownclimate."  One must engage in image-management.  "Reputationsare perceived and disseminated through images."21  One must developan image: through "concept-generation," an aspirant selects or inventsa unique combination of factors that will distinguish him/her from therest.  "Figures stand for something.  Often the figure is castas the incarnation of a single attribute... represented by a single wordor phrase."22  A public relations counsel helps one to find a conceptand image that will appeal to the target audience, and then to choose appropriatesigns to convey one's type to that audience.  "During breakout, arising celebrity needs to take the initiative, set the agenda."23 But public relations work is not all about establishing one's uniqueness:one also needs to establish legitimacy and, as mentioned above, one wayto do this is to connect oneself to past heroic genealogies and/or gaininstitutional affiliation, as there is a glow or aura around prestigiousinstitutions. 

    The advancement process is indeed rarely entirely left to chance: manyliterary careers display "marks of consciously coordinated efforts to manufacturea reputation among interested parties in publishing, book reviewing, academiccriticism, literary and critical movements, and the mass media."24 

    Generally-speaking, literary reputations radiate through smallercircles to the  public at large.  Every person and institutionis a potential 'radiator' and 'mediator' in and through which images andinformation emerge and get   passed on.  Typically, however,judgments of influential critic-reviewers shape  the outlines of anauthor's image.  Groups and mass media in turn distribute a versionof that image, thereby helping to expand a critical reputation into a public one.25
    This process has been called the "cultural apparatus."26   DavidHume and many other 17th and 18th century Western scholars have approvedof it: they thought it best for "joint verdicts" of an elite group of "truejudges" to decide artistic merit.27 

    A person seeking advancement must perhaps strike a balance between followingin great (that is, safe) footsteps and doing something new and unique. However, to get real for a moment: great work and the prominence that comeswith it often derive from an internal calling that has nothing to do withtrying to fit in or trying to be unique, or with currying favor with gatekeepers. People do become prominent because they had a vision of something thatneeded to be done, and they were able to do it.  All the precedentsand institutions of establishments can be overthrown, and many of humanity'sgreatest leaders, inventors, etc., have done precisely that. 

    Arthur Schopenhauer pessimistically presents what might be referredto as the lone-wolf theory of prominence: that the great person can expectprimarily to be attacked and scorned by the mediocre and jealous peopleall around him/her.  "Men of great genius...stand in all ages likeisolated heroes, keeping up single-handed a desperate struggling againstan array of opponents."28  The consolation comes in a feeling of communionwith similar (although mostly unknown) figures and with those who willone day appreciate him/her: "He who produces some really great thoughtis conscious of his connection with coming generations at the very momenthe conceives it; so he feels the extension of his existence through centuriesand thus lives with posterity as well as for it."29 

    While it is true that "There is nothing as powerful as an idea whosetime has come,"30  one's idea will often only be heard if one is persistentand skillful enough to present it effectively, and if one can escape repressionby forces that would prevent its exposure.  For new ways of seeingthings always have wide ramifications; they often affect, among other things,the ways that people make money.  Obviously, people who are makingmoney in a certain way will do their best to prevent ideas from catchingon that would undercut their means of livelihood.  The good news isthat innovative ideas open up new ways of making a living: the successfulpresenter of new ideas is often assisted by members of a new generationwho intuitively recognize new economic opportunities associated with newideas.  Being ahead of one's time, and thus receiving delayed recognitionor none at all, often involves being unable to find and make allianceswith those other members of a new generation, or with those who are sympatheticto it. 

    The question we are dealing with here--how one enters the leadershipranks of the public sphere--is quite appropriate to the discussion of Habermas. It is interesting to speculate about how Habermas himself might feel hehas achieved his position.  One suspects he would attribute his risepurely to merit, and that he would downplay the importance of manipulationand promotion by himself and his supporters. 

    II.  Data Supporting the Prominence of Habermas

    I have done a small amount of quantitative research in an attempt toestablish that Jürgen Habermas's name  is indeed a householdword in the social sciences.  I have included information about someother scholars to give a sense of comparison. 

    Over the period 1989-1999, citations to the following four scholarsin the combined Arts & Humanities and Social Sciences Indexes (indicatingreferences to these names in footnotes of published articles) totaled: 

    M. ScudsonMcLuhanHabermas Foucault
    7381053 4274 8688

    By year, citations to Habermas and Foucault in these indexes were asfollows: 

    99 (incomplete)220609


    In the University of Pennsylvania's Franklin Library database: 

    number of books
    "McLuhan" in title30
    "McLuhan" as a subject24
    "Habermas" in title 103
    "Habermas" as a subject110
    "Foucault" in title153
    "Foucault" as a subject165


    In the Academic Index (which includes articles from 1989 onwards): 

    number of articles
    "Habermas" in title206
    "Habermas" as a subject247
    "Foucault" in title 549
    "Foucault" as a subject 338

    These numbers consistently indicate that while Habermas is not referredto by authors as often as is Michel Foucault, who is perhaps the most popularfigure in the social sciences today, Habermas is nonetheless an extremelypopular figure among authors: surprisingly, he is the subject of many morearticle footnote references, and is mentioned in the titles of many morebooks, than is Marshall McLuhan, who undoubtedly was and is much betterknown among the general public. 

    III.  Why and How has Habermas Become Prominent?

    Three types of fame are: ancient classic (for the good of the state);Christian (featuring humility and martyrdom); and literary (yielding wisdomand beauty).  Habermas's fame is perhaps most closely related to thefirst type, although he is working for the common good of the people ofthe state, not for the state itself, and he does not mean to be workingtoward domination of any other people or state. 

    I propose that Jürgen Habermas has risen to prominence in the socialsciences for a number of reasons, including: 

      1)  He joined a prestigious institution and apprenticed himselfto one of its leaders.

      2)  He positioned himself as an heir to a number of intellectualtraditions, including Marx, the Frankfurt School, and the mainstream ofWestern civilization.

      3)  He identified a central problem (alienation) and suggesteda resonant resolution (public communication).

      4)  He challenged numerous public figures, often drawing themand/or others into engagement in a series of academic and public controversies.

      5)  By telling the story of the public sphere, he has to somedegree become the gatekeeper of it, defining what is allowed and what isnot.


    1)  He joined a prestigious institution and apprenticed himselfto one of its leaders.

    The Institut fur Sozialforschung (Institute for Social Research), theinstitutional home of a tradition of scholarship that would come to beknown as the Frankfurt School, came into formal existence in 1923. The research institute was conceived of and founded by Felix Weil, whohad been encouraged by friends at the University of Frankfurt and was wealthydue to the earnings of his grain merchant father and his mother's inheritance.31 Early faculty members included Friedrich Pollack, Leo Lowenthal, TheodorAdorno, and Max Horkheimer.  The cultural background of the schoolwas overwhelmingly middle-class German Jewish.  From the beginning,the intellectual mission of the Frankfurt School scholars was to study"modern technological apparatuses and to develop normative bases for actingon and changing the world so as to liberate humans from...domination byother human beings."32 

    Jürgen Habermas was born in 1929.  In 1953, Habermas was admittedto the Frankfurt School.  He become Adorno's assistant in 1956, anddid his Ph.D. under Adorno's guidance. 

    2)  He positioned himself as an heir to a number of intellectualtraditions, including Marx, the Frankfurt School, and the mainstream ofWestern civilization.

    Habermas inherited the Frankfurt School's intellectual tradition, whichwas in 1953 already long and notable.  This tradition had been basedon a synthesis of Marxism and liberalism, but from the beginning the Schoolhad questioned all orthodoxies.  Almost every thinker of significancein the canon of mainstream Western culture might be seen as having beena predecessor to or influence on Habermas, including: Kant, Fichte, Hegal,Wittgenstein, Popper, Pierce, Marx, Comte, Freud, Dilthey, Gadamer, Dewey,(G.H.) Mead, Parsons, Hempel, Luhmann, Weber, (E.) Burke, Lukacs, Ayer,Dahrendorf, Merton, Pierce, Nagel, Mills, Whorf, Godelier, Kuhn, Parsons,Durkheim, Garfinkel, Schutz, Piaget, Goffman, Lévi-Strauss, Husserl,and Hobbes, in addition to those associated with the Frankfurt School,such as Adorno, Horkheimer, Marcuse, Fromm and Benjamin.33  Habermastreats these authors as his "virtual dialogue partners."34  This makesreading Habermas quite difficult if one is not fully conversant with theworks of these men, as he is fond of abstract thought and his writing isfull of allusions to their work.  Like any scholar, Habermas makeshimself an extension of the tradition and canon with which he engages. In synthesizing and updating that tradition in a significant manner, hehas made himself an indispensable member of it. 

    Marxism had sought to overcome the inadequacies of the human conditionas they were seen to be manifested in distorted social relations of ownershipand production.  By the time Habermas arrived on the scene, the "attemptto ground a vision of societal transformation and human emancipation onthe proletariat had faltered."35  Habermas took the Marxist analysisas applied to property and material production--the owners' desire forsurplus capital, the majority of humans being robbed of their rightfulunity with the products they create--and reapplied it to communication. "Habermas' theory of language and communication derived largely from Marxismbut involved a systematic reconstruction of Marx's thought."36  Habermassaid it was patterns of communication which had been distorted.  (Moreon this below.)  Habermas has written that "I mostly feel that I amthe last Marxist."37  This implies to me that Habermas sees himselfas a nexus in which Marxism is reformed, transformed, refined, improved,and brought forth to the next generation. 

    Habermas also built on the tradition of pessimism of Adorno and Horkheimerabout how mass culture had so captured the public stage that there is nopossible leverage point for effective oppositional activity.  At thesame time, Habermas "appreciates more than they did the positive aspectsof the political thought of the Enlightenment...he is unwilling to relinquishthe conceptual underpinnings he has associated with it."38  In TheStructural Transformation of the Public Sphere,Habermas's positiveassessment of the European Enlightenment and his insistence on the democraticpotential of the Enlightenment was not compatible with the radical critiqueof reason in the works of Horkheimer and Adorno.  Through agreement,disagreement, and suggested modifications, Habermas has thus brought withhim a great wealth of past thought, and this is one factor that has madehim a valuable and renowned figure. 

    3)  He identified a central social problem (alienation) andsuggested a resonant resolution (public communication).

    The Frankfurt School from its inception had been involved in tryingto resolve the problems of alienation and the passive consumption of commodifiedculture.  In this effort it was engaged in a very ancient and consistenthuman quest.  As Michael Huspek puts it: 

    Today, no less than in Greek antiquity, we are in need of normativetheories that can help us to realize our true nature.  Through criticalassessment of the conditions of modern institutional life, we may betterovercome the multiple forms of alienation that follow as a consequenceof humans dominating other humans.39
    Humans dominating others, to Habermas, is most clearly exhibited in thedominators preventing the subordinates from communicating publicly. "At the core of deliberative democracy is political conversation. It is in conversation that citizens can bridge the meaning of their personalexperience...with the meaning of political worlds."40  Rational-criticaldebate is Habermas's antidote and alternative to commodity-consumptionculture.  To flourish, democracy demands continuous conversation,open argumentation, and debate.  Emancipation can only be achievedthrough a regeneration of the public sphere.  "For Habermas, our alienationfrom the world, self, or other is largely a by-product of the exigenciesof institutional life which have denied us the opportunity to freely, openly,and honestly communicate in the form either of initiating or challengingvalidity claims."41 

    A wonderful aspect of Habermas's vision is that it involves a rehabilitationof (small) business.  Habermas credits small business with breakingup the monopoly of royalty and state, and posits that with small businesscomes all sorts of liberation, including communication, travel, and interculturalexchange.  On a personal note--one positive result of my having readHabermas is that I no longer feel alienated from my role as a small businessperson. (For the past 18 years myself and partner have operated a video productioncompany.) 

    Habermas's project is is truly post-ideological, neither of the leftnor the right.  Although they might have slightly different ideasregarding how this should be done, it is the duty of every citizen to improvethe public sphere.  Who but a tyrant would object to a lively publicsphere?  The only villains in the piece are big business and big government. The great question is: "How can the public participate when the media seemto be the sole provider of public space?"42  Habermas would not eradicatebig media, but rather would somehow enable more activity by individuals. 

    Habermas has called us to fall in love again, to fall in love with society,with our brother and sister citizens, with public communication itself.43  Habermas has spoken to and been heard by generations which had practicallygiven up hope of even the possibility of fulfilling participation in apublic sphere.  I must admit that before coming upon the work of Habermas(and the literature around him) recently, I personally had nearly despairedof hope.  I had nearly despaired of the hope that the problem couldeven be publicly addressed.  I had thought that the possibility oftrue public discourse was too far out of reach for that.  I vaguelytook it for granted that no scholar had even acknowledged the problem inprint. 

    One scholar after another declares why Habermas is important, each sayingit slightly differently: "The most ambitious and original feature of Habermas'swhole work is his attempt to recast the study of society in a theory ofcommunication."44  "Habermas developed a theory of  intersubjectivecommunicative processes and their emancipatory potential."45  "UnlikeKarl Marx's paradigm of production and social labor, Habermas has builta new paradigm of communicative action focused on the communicative mind,communication and rationality, and the communicative community."46 

    As mentioned above, one great proposed solution to the central problemof modern times--alienation--had been Marxism.  Marxism identified"an unnatural condition whereby all humans are prevented from realizingtheir fullest nature."47  In Habermas's thought, "Communicative action...providesan alternative to money and power as a basis for societal integration."48 What this does is replace the primary fantasy of utopia prevalent in societyfrom the late 1800s to the late 1900s -- Marx's classless society, in whichworkers own and control the means of material production--with a new versionof that utopian vision, which involves people overcoming alienation throughcivic conversational communication.  Habermas was not alone in thisturn toward (interactive) communication: 

    Many contemporary movements are less preoccupied with strugglesover the production and distribution of material goods and resources, andare more concerned with the ways in which postindustrial societies generateand withhold  information and produce and sustain meanings among theirmembers.49
    One problem with Marxism as it had been applied was "the long-standingfailure in the dominant wing of the socialist and Marxist tradition toappreciate the full force of the distinction between the apparatuses ofthe state, on the one hand, and public arenas of citizen discourse andassociation, on the other."50  Habermas makes clear the need for thoroughcivic discourse, although he is vague about how public opinion should bepublicized. 

    In capitalist countries, "The pubic sphere [had been] turned into asham semblance of its former self.  The shared, critical activityof public discourse was replaced by a more passive culture consumptionon the one hand and an apolitical sociability on the other."51  "Earlyin the 1960s...public discourse was hardly audible in the U. S. amid themanipulative communications of consumer culture and consensus politics."52 However, 

    Before that decade ended...the staid surfaces of the welfarestate mass democracy had been fractured.  The civil rights and anti-warmovements  disturbed the equanimity and passivity of public discourse,shattered consensus, and revitalized a conception of politics based onparticipatory democracy.  Those movements and student activism aroundthe globe opened a narrow wedge in entrenched political structures andpermitted their participants to experience, however briefly, a more commodiouspublic space.53
    In 1956, in The Phenomenon of Man,Pierre Teilhard de Chardin hadsummed up activity on earth as the evolution of matter toward consciousness,and the inter-mingling of these consciousnesses in what he called the noosphere,which he vaguely described as occurring in the atmosphere around the globe. In the 1960s scholars in numerous fields settled upon communication asthe key to the study (and future) of society.  Among these projectswere: Marshall McLuhan's global village; folklorists' performance-centeredapproach 54; Dell Hymes' founding of the field of Ethnography of Speaking;and Erving Goffman's study of micro-social behavior.  All of thesecan be considered developments in sociolinguistics and all point to theprocess of shared being, that is, community.  "Following the linguisticturn in philosophy, Habermas has argued that the source of human emancipationis located neither in a specific class nor in any other empirically boundedgroup (e.g., artists, students, intellectuals) but rather is immanentlypresent within all speakers' communicative competencies."55  Habermasmade his contribution in part by telling the story of the public sphereand by grounding this telling in intellectual history: 
    The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphereweavestogether economic, social-organizational, communicational, social-psychological,and cultural dimensions of the problem in a historically specific analysis... This multi-dimensional and inter-disciplinary approach enables Habermasto offer the  richest, best developed conceptualization availableof the social nature and foundations of public life.56
    "Habermas's major statement on the public sphere had relatively minor impacton the U. S. debate on the public sphere until its English publicationin 1989."57  Perhaps not coincidentally, this was the year communismfell in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.  It seems that the comingof these historical events might have prompted Habermas to publish thetranslation at this time: for years he had put off publishing the translationbecause he wished to rewrite the entire book.  As it was, the timingwas perfect: as one paradigm fell, a manual for a new paradigm became widelyavailable: 
    Specific books and actors become important in intellectualhistory when they begin to define a common paradigm for cultural analysisamong groups of people who otherwise pursue widely divergent professional,political, and intellectual interests.  By this criterion, the worksof Jürgen Habermas might already be compared to the books of Rousseau,Hegal, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, and Foucault, all of whom challenged andhelped to transform the ways in which modern people understood past andcontemporary societies.58

    4)  He challenged numerous public figures, often drawingthem and/or others into engagement in a series of academic and public controversies.

    Perhaps the most important reason why debate has been suchan integral part of Habermas's way of being has to do with a consistencyhe has maintained  between his philosophical positions and his puttinginto practice of these positions in his various talks and writings... He presents a theory of argument and controversy by means of argument andcontroversy.59
    Habermas has engaged in numerous public debates and controversies in hiscareer, both within academia and in society at large.  In fact, hisacademic controversies contributed to bringing ideas out of the academyand to the attention of a larger (reading) public.  Habermas has spokenout often against regressive tendencies in the Federal Republic of WestGermany and has consistently supported democracy and a theoretical positionthat furthers democratic principles.  "As a critic in the public sphere,Habermas has sought through both theory and practice to keep promises ofdemocracy alive and to assist in their realization."60 

    Seven of Habermas's controversies/debates are: 

    a)   vs. Heidegger's Nazism (academic-public).
    b)   vs.  Hans Albert's positivism  (academic).
    c)   vs. Hans-Georg Gadamer's hermeneutics (academic).
    d)   vs. Sixties' students' violence (public).
    e)   vs. Niklas Luhmann's systems theory (academic).
    f)   vs. Francois Lyotard's poststructuralism (academic).
    g)  vs. West Germany's rehabilitation of the Bitburg cemetery(public).

    a)  vs. Heidegger's Nazism (academic-public).

    On July 25,1953, while still a graduate student, Habermas publishedin the journal, Frankfurter Allgemene Zeitung,a review of the republicationof Martin Heidegger's 1935 lecture, "An Introduction to Metaphysics." Habermas wrote that it "clearly evidences the fascist coloration of thetime."  Heidegger's text speaks of the "inner truth and greatness,"seemingly, of the Nazi movement.  A defense of Heidegger was published in Die Zeiton August 13: it was written by one Christian Lewalter,who minimized Heidegger's involvement with Nazism and implied that Habermaswas a communist.  Heidegger himself defended his essay in a letterto the editor, published in Die Zeiton September 24. 

    b)  vs. Karl Popper's and Hans Albert's positivism (academic).

    Habermas's first extended academic debate became known as the "positivistdebate."  It began in the following manner:  Habermas's mentorAdorno had an intellectual exchange with Karl Popper in the course of aconference held by the German Sociological Association in Tubingen in 1961. Adorno accused Popper of adhering to positivism, by which Adorno meant"all procedures that isolate objects without reference to the totalityof relations in which they are necessarily embedded."61  Habermascontributed an article for Adorno's festschrift which sought to clarifyand defend Adorno's position.  This article was structured aroundcitations from Adorno's response to Popper in Adorno's essay, "Sociologyand Empirical Research."  Adorno and Habermas wanted to assert a dominanceof critical theory over the incursion of empirical procedures.  Theyobjected to survey-style research, claiming that empirical methods do notreflect upon their own presuppositions, and that the purely scientificrealm conceived by Popper is a fiction.  A  key point for Habermaswas his insistence that the scientific research process should be dependenton intersubjective agreement, an agreement that can only be based on normsdrawn from the life world, that extra-scientific arena that he claimedPopper endeavored to bracket from pure science.62   AlthoughHabermas's comments were addressed to Popper's arguments, he received noreply.  It was left to one of Popper's German disciples, sociologistHans Albert, to answer Habermas.  In several essays and books writtenover the next few years, Albert argued against the objections of the "dialecticians." One result of this episode was that for the first time in the postwar period,considerable attention was given to the problem of methodology of the socialsciences.

    c)   vs. Hans-Georg Gadamer's hermeneutics (academic).

    Habermas felt that Hans-Georg Gadamer was fundamentally mistaken inhis rigid dichotomy of truth and method.  Habermas contended firstthat hermeneutics cannot afford to remain metacritical.  It must alsopartake in methodology if it is to be of any value to the human sciences. Habermas expressed discomfort with what he perceived to be the total lackof objective standards in Gadamer's theory.   Habermas believedthat ontological hermeneutics wished to sever all connections with epistemology. Instead Habermas wanted to recruit hermeneutics for the methodology ofthe social sciences.  Habermas's basic critique was of Gadamer's attitudetoward authority.  For Gadamer, authority was not necessarily authoritarian;for him, true authority does not survive because of blind obedience toa superior force, but because of insight into superior knowledge. According to Habermas, Gadamer's championing of the prejudices handed downby tradition denies his ability to reflect upon these prejudices and toreject them.  What Habermas wanted was a critical dimension in hermeneuticthought, one that would carry out a critique of ideology.  Habermas'sconception of knowledge is rooted not in tradition and the authority thatemanates from tradition, but in rational insight and decisions that havethe possibility to defy what has been handed down.  In his objectionsto Gadamer, Habermas was concerned with preserving a realm outside an ontologicalhermeneutical understanding that would enable one to reflect criticallyand politically on tradition.  Habermas objected to the passivityof the interpreter in the face of tradition, and to the legitimacy of carvingout a privileged ontological realm that controls and oversees understanding. It is ironic that Habermas put himself in a position to receive similarcriticism of exclusionism regarding Habermas's insistence on normativerationality in the public sphere.  Habermas's initial objection toGadamer's hermeneutics was published in Philosopische Rundschauin1967.  A second contribution occurred in 1970 in a festschrift forGadamer.63 

    d)   vs. Sixties' students' violence (public).

    Habermas generally functioned as an encouraging supporter of the WestGerman student movement in the sixties.  At one crucial public meeting,however, Habermas counseled the students against provoking a violent reactionfrom authorities: he warned them not to engage in "leftist fascism." This became the most controversial remark on the the student movement.64  Here as elsewhere, Habermas sought to preserve and extend existing democraticpossibilities rather than make a radical break with the system. 

    e)   vs. Niklas Luhmann's systems theory (academic).

    Habermas perceived Niklas Luhmann's systems theory as the chief sociologicalchallenge to Habermas's analysis of modern society.  This debate beganin the late sixties.  From Habermas's point of view, he was defendinghis progressive, critical version of sociological theory from a conservative,legitimizing theory of society.  Again, Habermas was criticizing amethodology that he felt refused to reflect upon itself, and thus was anindirect apology for the status quo.  Systems theory, Habermas suggested,was a successor to positivism in this regard.  He felt that systemstheory propagated a notion of the political sphere in complex societiesthat isolates it from democratic control.  Luhmann indeed conceivedof "comprehensive, non-participatory planning shielded from the influenceof the public and political parties as the only administratively acceptablemodel for Western societies."65   What Luhmann greeted as increasedfunctional differentiation, Habermas bemoaned as an impoverished society. Again, Habermas opposed exclusionism and favored public debate and involvement. Habermas's engagement with Luhmann assumed a rather unusual form: Habermasorganized joint seminars, to which he invited Luhmann, and the debate spawnedthree volumes of essays to which various scholars contributed.  Heand Luhmann published a book together.66 

    f)   vs. Francois Lyotard's 'poststructuralism' (academic).

    Habermas was the challenged party in this instance.  The publicationin 1979 of La Condition Postmodernecemented the connection betweenFrancois Lyotard and poststructuralism.  Lyotard referred to Habermasat the end of this book, summing up his objections to Habermas in two centralpoints:  First, Lyotard claimed that legitimization cannot be tiedto universal consensus--a position he identified with Habermas -- becausethe pragmatic realm of language games is ungoverned by transcendental orpreestablished rules.  Second, Lyotard assumed that for Habermas,the goal of dialogue is consensus.  But consensus can never be achieved,according to Lyotard, for consensus is only "a particular state of discussion,not its end."67  The background to this debate was that "Throughoutthe 1980s, Habermas was deemed to be a bit of a square, concerned as hewas with questions of liberalism and normative political theory for theall-important achievement of 'consensus,' as opposed to the 'vibes' ofthe postmodern narrated by Francois Lyotard."68  Habermas expressedfaith in reason, progress, Enlightenment, the project of modernity (seebelow).  Lyotard meanwhile called into question reason and logic,preferred discontinuity over consensus and progress, and insisted on myriadlanguage games with no centralized rules.  To Lyotard, these gameswere a necessary form of resistance against big business and government. 

    g)  vs. West Germany's rehabilitation of the Bitburg cemetery(public).

    In 1986, Habermas criticized West German conservatives' attempts toestablish continuity with a dubious heritage.  This controversy centeredaround the cemetery at Bitburg.  SS officers had been buried there,and Habermas sided with those who felt that it was for that reason an inappropriateplace to commemorate peace with the Allies. 

    5)  By telling the story of the public sphere, he has to somedegree become the gatekeeper of it, defining what is allowed and what isnot.

    Directly after writing his dissertation (on the work of the German idealistFriedrich Schelling), Habermas proceeded to write The Structural Transformationof the Public Sphere,which was for the most part a history of the publicsphere in the West, beginning with ancient Greece.  In writing thisbook, Habermas was attempting to ground a theory of the public sphere inhistory, not just abstract principles.   Habermas places thepublic sphere in the very center of the Enlightenment project.  Infact, it can be said that with this book, "Habermas invented the notionof the public sphere."69 The Structural Transformation of the PublicSphereset the tone for, and demarcated the areas of interest of, Habermas'sentire career.  None of his subsequent works have been as historicalor sociological, veering instead towards the philosophical and the theoretical:these subsequent works have functioned to explicate the material presentedin the first book.  The Structural Transformation of the PublicSphereis structured as a rise and fall story.  "The aim is toidentify the conditions that made possible this type of public sphere andto chart their devolution...  Some new form of public sphere is requiredto salvage that arena's critical function and to institutionalize democracy."70 Although the heart of the book is about the bourgeois public sphere asHabermas imagined it occurring in 17th and 18th century Paris and London,the description vacillates between normative and historical: the book canbe read as a how-to manual for reconstructing and practicing the publicsphere in the present day. 

    With The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere,Habermasdefined his image immediately.  His subject was to be the public sphereand he was a to be a champion of it and of the rational discussion thatsupposedly enlivened it in its golden ages.  Habermas constructedan image of himself as a defender of normative rules for rational civicdiscourse.  Habermas seems to ask: Can we still, in our time, providea rational justification for universal normative standards?  Or arewe faced with relativism, which holds that ultimate norms are arbitraryand beyond rationality?  His ringing answer: The ideal of rationalitycan and should be maintained! 

    Habermas is a self-proclaimed reformist.  He would reform the entireWestern project, starting with Greek democracy and continuing through theEnlightenment.  He urges his audience to hold onto this heritage. I submit that one reason Habermas has risen to prominence is that he haspositioned himself as a defender of this great and lengthy tradition. As Habermas puts it: "We observe the anarchistic intention of blowing upthe continuum of history, and we can account for it in terms of the newaesthetic consciousness.  Modernity revolts against the normalizingfunction of tradition; modernity lives on the experience of rebelling againstall that is normative."71  His message has been appreciated by many. For example, 

    The spirit of our times is one of deconstruction rather thanreconstruction...   Habermas is aware of this present mood. No one can accuse him of naivete.   Yet he constantly and persistentlyargues against the facile (and sophisticated)  attempts to dismissthe legacy of Western rationality.  One reason why Habermas's workhas received so much attention is because--despite present  fashions--headdresses himself to what many of us still believe, or want to believe:that is it possible to confront honestly the challenges, critiques, the unmasking of illusions; to work through these, and still responsibly reconstruct an informed comprehensive perspective on modernity and its pathologies.72
    Clearly, Habermas's approach has been popular with conservatives, althoughhe has never abandoned the left.  It does not hurt a person's renownto be embraced by people in various areas of the political spectrum. 

    Here is a partial list of Habermas's stipulations for public spherediscourse: 

      a) The form and content of the debate must be rational-critical. (Onemust support one's thesis with verifiable facts.  Consistency andcausality must be adhered to.) 

      b) Only civic, common concerns may be discussed--the private (whetheremotional or financial) is disallowed. 

      c) Participants should bracket status differentials and deliberate "asif" they were social equals. 

      d) The process must be limited to the forming public opinion; it cannever become one of actual decision-making and self-management. 

      e) A single, comprehensive pubic sphere--where consensus can be achieved--isalways preferable to a complex of multiple public spheres. 

    In insisting on all of these conditions, Habermas was sincere, butalso provocative.  As a result, "In the 1980s Habermas has frequentlyfunctioned as a straw man representing simplistic notions of enlightenmentand reason."73  Habermas has said that he at times hardly recognizeshimself in the attacks on him by French structuralists and others.74 Of course, he brought this misunderstanding upon himself by originallystating the necessary conditions for pubic sphere discourse in an unnecessarilyrigid, abstract, and argumentative manner.  All he really meant bycalling for rational-critical discourse was for people to be open to thequestioning of all authority (be critical), to try to back up their argumentswith facts (be rational), to speak as clearly and respectfully as possible,and to take turns in a fair manner.  Stated in these non-elitist andnon-confrontational terms, these are hardly injunctions to which most peoplewould object. 

    In bringing the concept of the public sphere to people's attention --by not only reminding them that such a thing is possible, but by placingit in the center of the Western project--Habermas also invited them toenter that sphere.  But Habermas placed himself and his conditionsat the threshold.  In this way, Habermas has drawn a great deal ofattention to himself.  "Habermas sees communication as all sociallycoordinated activities through which the human species maintains itselfas human, that is, rational."75  He would define who and what is humanand fit for the public sphere.  Who is he or anyone else to make suchpronouncements?  Of course, nobody had to listen to him.  Butbecause of his public prominence (gained in part through his affiliationswith great traditions, institutions, and individuals, and his ability topublish), Habermas was difficult to ignore.  He seemed to desire toblock the multicultural project, to discourage 'mainstream' people fromtrying to understand and welcome various others (people of color, women,homosexuals) -- that is, people with disparate styles.  His approachwas very successful in getting a rise out of all concerned and in gettinga conversation going.  Like almost everything that Habermas has writtensince that time, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphereelicitednumerous, often lively responses among contemporary readers.  Severalbooks appeared as direct replies to this work, and scores of essays augmented,corrected, or rejected his account of the public sphere.76 

    As mentioned, Habermas's stipulations are abstract principles which,when pressed, he admits are idealized and unreal, both historiaclly andnormatively.  For example, Habermas has recently written that "Thegrowing feminist literature has sensitized our awareness to the patriarchalcharacter of the public sphere itself."77  He has also admitted that"I can rightly be accused of having idealized what were presented as featuresof an existing liberal public sphere."78  Habermas's approach neednot be discarded, but can be reformed, and he has shown himself to be verycapable of cheerfully taking part in this reform process. 

    Habermas is not really against expressions of love, friendship, compassion,and empathy in the public sphere.  He does not really oppose plurality,difference, and spontaneity.  Being a European man who came of agebefore feminism and other related reforms, he is simply a bit formal. It must be remembered that the paradigm of authority that Habermas is reactingagainst is that of royalty and fascism.  His disdain for the imageand the emotional is based in his resistance to the use of those thingsby large entities for the purpose of domination: he seems only secondarilyto consider that those things could be used for expression by individuals. 

    In his insistence on rationality in public discourse, Habermas seemsto be unaware that it was western white men, products of the supposedlyrationality-centric culture he glorifies, who enslaved and tortured Africansand other people of color on a scale never before imagined; started twoworld wars; and so on.  It may in part be the emotional self-repressionof those who pride themselves in being rational that has caused those individualsto act out in all sorts of self-destructive and outwardly-destructive ways. What I am raising here is the possibility that rationality (like all formsof linear thought), taken to the extreme, involves suppression of emotion,compassion, conscience, love.  Could such a supposition ever be tested? I doubt it.  Morever, it might well be said that the individuals mentionedabove never achieved enough rationality -- that is, it was lack of, notthe quest for, rationality that led them astray. 

    While it is certainly useful for one to be able to converse in sucha way as to be able to communicate efficiently with speakers of standardversions of major languages, the entire attempt to set conditions for idealspeech is inevitably exclusive.  As one scholar puts it: "The foundationsof communication are not the ideal equal relationships that Habermas imagines,but are instead based on an exclusive, learned, and gendered, symbolicheritage."79  "Public realm theory would do well to abandon a strongnormative conception of the public sphere for a more flexible, phenomenologicalapproach."80  One should not be forced to constrain oneself to speakwithin the limits of an existing political vocabulary, for "It is momentsof defiance and disruption that bring the invisible and the unimaginableinto view.  Attitudes of defiance, chaos, and spontaneity...are counterto Habermas's strictly dialogic and procedural approach."81  Habermas would banish the performative aspects of participation, whichcannot be captured or constrained within the confines of rational discourse-- in fact it is often the point of performative aspects to cross overthose boundaries, or at least to threaten to.  Habermas threatensto regularize--and thereby suppress -- not only "the irreducible heterogeneityof language games" but the plurality of voices that might participate insuch games."82 

    According to Habermas, public sphere speech must convey facts and ideas. Phatic speech (speech that serves social purposes) and speech declaringor celebrating identity, culture, or emotion has no place in Habermas'sideal speech situation, and hence "persons whose speech is richly coloredwith rhetoric, gesture, humor, spirit, or affectation could be definedas deviant or immature communicators."83  To disallow the stylistic,emotional, and aesthetic aspects of speech is of course ridiculous--andlogically impossible, as all communication has an aesthetic component. 

    The simple truth is that Habermas is prejudiced in favor of the written,nay, the printed, word, and this does makes him somewhat of an elitist. In a recent interview with a U.S.A. editor, 

    Habermas described himself as old-fashioned in the sense thathe believes in  texts rather than oral presentations.  He saidhe thinks that print...provides certain healthy restraints on the processof the mind.  As a result, Habermas said, "The print media are stillat the core of any media we have now."  He  argued that printmedia are the primary source from which TV and movies draw their substance. "A world without print -- imagine it!  The level of articulation andanalysis would be left to drown.  Print is necessary for maintainingthe public sphere."84
    To this same editor, Habermas granted all of the caveats about the impossibilityof objectivity, but added, 
    "You should never drop the ideal of reliable information--ifyou do, everything is lost...  What is required is the highest levelof discourse.  You should try to  follow the maxim to collectthe best arguments for the most precisely stated  position on theissue under discussion...  At the core of [journals'] mission is tomaintain the discursive character of public communication.  Who else,if not this type of press, is going to set the standards?"85
    As for his stipulation about what does and does not constitute proper subjectmatter, Nancy Fraser notes: 
    Only participants themselves can decide what is and what isnot of common  interest to them.  There is no guarantee, however,that all of them will agree.  For example, until quite recently, feministswere in the minority in thinking that  domestic violence against womenwas a matter of common concern and thus  a legitimate topic of publicdiscourse.  The great majority of people considered  this issueto be a private matter between what was assumed to be a fairly small numberof heterosexual couples (and perhaps the social and legal professionalswho were supposed to deal with them).  Then feminists formed a subaltern counterpublic from which we disseminated a view of domestic violenceas a widespread systemic feature of male-dominated societies.  Eventually,after sustained discursive contestation, we succeeded in making it a commonconcern.  The point is that there are no naturally given, a prioriboundaries here.  What will count as a matter of common concern willbe  decided precisely through discursive contestation.  It followsthat no topics should be ruled off-limits in advance of such contestation.86
    Habermas's conception of the nature of political theory is largely derivedfrom the classical tradition.  To be a truly useful working modelfor large groups of contemporary people, the classical tradition needsto be opened up a bit, made more inclusive, and updated--especially inlight of feminist theory.  Political and civic discussion today occursin such places as the kitchen, and as friends are watching Monday NightFootball.87  Social and intellectual reality in 1999 (especially inthe U.S.A.) has become a very thorough mix of low and high culture. In No Sense of Place,Joshua Meyrowitz describes the blurring ofthe private and the public, the low and the high, that is taking placein society today.  He attributes this especially to visual electroniccommunication, which by exposing the flawed humanity of everyone, includingthe most exalted authority figures, exposes hierarchies as artificial. Clearly, Habermas has mixed feelings about the rise of public informality:he wants authority to be criticized, but for this to be done in a disciplinedmanner. 

    Habermas calls for a clear separation of society and state.  Forhim, the public sphere is "a network for communicating information andpoints of view [which are]...filtered and synthesized in such a way thatthey coalesce into bundles of topically specified public opinions."88 Numerous critics have replied that critical theory needs to take a harder,more critical look at the terms "private" and "public."  These terms,after all, are "not simply straightforward designations of societal spheres;they are contested cultural classifications and rhetorical labels. In political discourse, they are powerful terms that are frequently deployedto delegitimate some interests, views, and topics and to valorize others."89 In particular, "A rhetoric of privacy has historically been used to restrictthe universe of legitimate public contestation."90 

    Habermas distinguishes two types of discursive participation: decision-orienteddeliberation,which takes place primarily in formal democratic institutions and leadsdirectly to legislation and action; and informal opinion-formation, whichis "uncoupled from decisions...and effected in an open and inclusive networkof overlapping, subcultural publics having fluid temporal, social and substantiveboundaries."91  He argues that the role of the public sphere is to"amplify the pressure of problems, that is, not only detect and identifyproblems but also convincingly and influentially thematize them, furnishthem with possible solutions, and dramatize them in such a way that theyare taken up and dealt with by parliamentary complexes."92  NancyFraser counters that 

    Any conception of the public sphere that requires a sharp separationbetween (associational) civil society and the state will be unable to imaginethe forms of self-management, interpublic coordination, and political accountabilitythat are essential to a democratic and egalitarian society.93 

    What is needed is a postbourgeois conception that can permit us to envisiona  greater role for (at least some) public spheres than mere autonomousopinion formation removed from authoritative decision making.  A postbourgeois conception would enable us to think about strong and weak publics, as wellas  about various hybrid forms.  In addition, it would allowus to theorize the range of possible relations among such publics, therebyexpanding our capacity to envision democratic possibilities beyond thelimits of actually existing democracy.  94

    Habermas's conception seems to imply that an expansion of the public'sauthority to encompass decision making as well as opinion making wouldthreaten the autonomy of public opinion -- for then "the public would effectivelybecome the state, and the possibility of a critical discursive check onthe state would be lost."95  Of course,  for a public to giveup the option of being able to govern directly is emblematic of the membersof that public feeling satisfied, well-off, and in-control.  "Habermasneglects that the bourgeois public sphere was oriented not just towardthe defense of civil society against the state, but also toward the maintenanceof a system of domination within civil society."96  Habermas has recentlyacknowledged that in 17th and 18th century Europe there were indeed multiplepublic spheres, that "virtually contemporaneous with the bourgeois publicsphere were nationalist publics, popular peasant publics, elite women'spublics, and working class publics."97 

    Habermas's great contribution -- and the thing that I hope he is rememberedfor -- has been his bringing of the concept and potential of the publicsphere to general attention.  He, with others, has rescued this ideafrom the dustbin of history.  Just as Freud's great contribution wasin shedding light on the unconscious mind in general, and does not relyon the universal validity of any of his theories about particular complexes,so Habermas's greatness is also not based on his pontifications about whatis appropriate for the public sphere, but rather on his raising the possibilityof such a sphere in the first place. 

    Many scholars begin with the supposition that the Habermasian projectis "in need of something."98  They say that the "theory of communicativerationality and discourse is an 'unfinished project"99, and speak of "addressingthe unfinished business of imagining postmodern democracy"100.  Theypoint out that "Habermas stops short of developing a new, post-bourgeoismodel of the public sphere."101  I believe that this is one more reasonthat he is so popular: his project is indeed unfinished.  This invitesothers to join in and further the process.  Habermas's passion forthe public sphere is contagious: most anyone who studies Habermas's workseems to feel called upon to critique his point of view and/or to add theirown.  Habermas never intended his pronouncements to be the last word,but rather to be a means of stimulating discussion.  Critical theoryis about the dialectic process, not final answers: the critical processcalls for "self-corrective discourse, sensitive to a critique of systematicexclusionary mechanisms built into them."102  In stimulating and enablingdiscussion, Habermas then becomes all the more famous as his defendersand opponents extend and modify his story of the public sphere. 

    IV.  Addendum

    Having provided numerous explanations of why and how Habermas has becomea household word in the social sciences, I beg the indulgence of the readerto permit me to now briefly suggest some specific proposals for ways tomove Habermas's vision of a public sphere toward fulfillment. 

    Although Habermas was extremely prophetic in seeing the refuedalizationof society through the spectacle of the electronic image (as perfectedin the Reagan years), he oddly does not directly comment on the positivepotential of interactive telecommunication.  As it turns out, however,cyberspace fits Habermas's recent descriptions of the public sphere quitewell: he writes that the public sphere is a "linguistically constitutedpublic space"103 which is defined not by a physical presence, but ratherby a "communicative structure."104  Habermas agrees with Tarde thatprinted journals and newspapers were the most important mediated elementsof the public sphere in 17th and 18th century Europe, where they developedout of private handwritten letters (often merchants wrote letters aboutmarket conditions and possibilities).  E-mail, listservs, and websitesrepresent a renaissance of small media on the borderline between the privateand the public.  Habermas perhaps distrusts these new forms of communicationbecause their information is often unverified: it is only though publicdiscussion that such verification can occur. 

    Clearly, many people want to be included in the deliberations of society. I posit that it is not really the case that most people crave fame: I believethere is a deeper and more common craving for social engagement and involvement-- in small groups, and in larger communities.  The issue of fameand celebrityhood is a red herring: those things are false substitutesfor true engagement, which is now very much possible through interactivetelecommunication. 

    "When we cannot see the assembled public at once--no Forum--we lookto its symbolic substitute in the media."105  Along with mass mediarepresentations of the public came polls: in fact, polls are often presentedthrough the mass media.  "Citizens do not themselves produce publicopinion today; it must be generated through the machinery of polling. The power to constitute the public space, then, falls into the hands ofthe experts, not of the citizens."106  The only solution Habermasseems to present in The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphereisincreased "participation of private people in a process of formal communicationconducted through intra-organizational public spheres."107  This mayhave been the best answer before the Internet: it is no longer.  Nowmembers of the public can represent themselves directly. 

    Many people can partake in interactive telecommunication from theirhomes and offices, but for those who cannot or who are traveling, thereneed to be community Internet centers open on a 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-weekbasis.  Such community Internet centers are an indispensable componentof the antidote to present-day alienation.  Each neighborhood candesign its own: in some neighborhoods, it can be a government-sponsoredproject: in others, more business-sponsored.   People shouldbe able to go to such centers to partake in civic debate, as well as towork for themselves, work for others, socialize, etc.  There are anincreasing number of types of work that one can do from a multimedia computerterminal, including website design, information processing, programming,and answering telephone calls for businesses.  Many of these typesof work require a very small amount of initial training and can be doneat odd hours.  In other words, the concept of unemployment is absolutelydated, artificial, and unnecessary.  Access to employment is now simplya matter of having access to the workplace (an Internet-connected computer),and of governments and businesses developing easy ways for people to sitdown, go to a website, and get started.  Before, while, or after peoplework they can socialize and partake in civic discussion.  People inacademia are especially accustomed to this sort of thing, as looking atwebsites and trading e-mails is both part of our research and of our sociallives, and often the line between the two is blurred. 

    Two possible forms of interactive telecommunicational public sphereactivity are: multipoint Internet videoconferencing; and the representationof individuals on a mosaic grid.  No less of an authority than theNew York Times confirms that "The world is obsessed with turning the Internetinto a video distribution system."108   Perhaps the most computer-memory-intensiveform of Internet video distribution is multipoint videoconferencing, which,incidentally, enables (a reconstruction of) face-to-face communities. One software product presently on the market enables 12 participants toappear on the screen at once (audio and text are also shared).109 AT&T has been experimenting with 16 windows.  Simulations withmany more videoconferencing windows are commonly presented on televisionand in magazines.  People could form small groups by any criteria--includingphysical location, political perspective, keyword, etc.  I believeit might be sensible for governments to give incentives of some sort forsmall groups to remain intact over time, for the sake of fostering community. I imagine award ceremonies for Internet videoconferencing groups that haveremained intact and produced and made available its opinions/arts/commodities/etc. 

    Websites are becoming de riguer for citizenship, and websites are quicklybecoming personalized television stations, as one can send live video andaudio to one's website 24-hours-a-day.  One can send the same livevideo to one's website and to one's videoconferencing window: that is,one's website and videoconferencing window can be the same thing. Although the quality of interaction decreases as the number of participantsin a videoconference increases, and as the size of each member's windowdecreases, it may for certain occasions be appropriate to reduce the sizeof each participant's videoconferencing window to a single pixel (smallestaddressable picture element).  Almost all TV and computer screenshave at least 400 horizontal and 300 vertical pixels, yielding a totalof 120,000 pixels.110   This means that 120,000 individuals could,by choosing the color of their assigned pixel, together create a commonvisual field--for the purposes of voting, expression of opinion, artwork,etc.  Such issues as, "Who would set up and administer such a system?",and "Who would ask the questions that people would respond to with color?",are among those that would need to be worked out. 

    Habermas writes: 

    I don't think that we can ever again, or even that we shouldever again, bridge the institutional differentiation between the sciencesystem and political agitation, organization, and action.  That iswhat Lenin tried to do.  And I think  that it's a part of thepast that we don't want to retrieve.  So there are just bridges betweenus as participants in some sort of political action and as  membersof the science community.111
    Yes, the primary business of academia is analysis.  However, I feelanalysis has led me to a conclusion: I submit that what is now called forin society is the implementation of new methods of public sphere interactivetelecommunication (such as multipoint videoconferencing, and mosaic self-representationof large numbers of individuals, available in 24-hour community centers). These new infrastructures are coming into being, and they are in part beingbuilt in the name of Jürgen Habermas, whose name will live eternally,for he has most ably championed a cause -- the public sphere -- which isdestined to grow.  As for his championing of the rational: it is aconstructive thought, and satisfactory compromises can definitely be achieved. 


    1  Harriet Zuckerman, Scientific Elite:Nobel Laureates in theUnited States,New York: Free Press, 1977, p. 59. 

    2  Zuckerman, p. 59. 

    3  Zuckerman, p. 207. 

    4  Zuckerman, p. 207. 

    5  Zuckerman, p. 107. 

    6  Zuckerman, p. 179. 

    7  Zuckerman, p. 6. 

    8  Leo Szilard, as cited in Zuckerman, p. 6. 

    9  Zuckerman, p. 60. 

    10  Zuckerman, p. 126. 

    11  Otto Warburg, as cited in Zuckerman, p. 128. 

    12  Zuckerman, p. 127. 

    13  Zuckerman, p. 127. 

    14  Zuckerman, p. 127. 

    15  William Josiah Goode, The Celebration of Heroes: Prestigeas a Social Control System,Berkeley: U. of California Press, 1978,p.7. 

    16  Goode, p. 23. 

    17  Goode, p. 33. 

    18  Goode, p. 44. 

    19  Stuart Ewen, PR!: A Social History of Spin,New York:Basic Books, 1996, p. 14. 

    20  Ewen, p. 18. 

    21  Ewen, p. 36. 

    22  Ewen, p. 71. 

    23  Irving Rein, Philip Kotler, and Martin Stoller, High Visibility:The Making and Marketing of Professionals into Celebrities, Lincolnwood,Illinois: NTC Business Books, 1997, p. 259. 

    24  John Rodden, The Politics of Literary Reputation: The Makingand Claiming of "St. George" Orwell,New York: Oxford University Press,1989, p. 9. 

    25  Rodden, p. 69. 

    26  Rodden, p. 69. 

    27  David Hume, as cited in Rodden, p. 69. 

    28  Arthur Schopenhauer, The Art of Literature,trans. byT. Bailey Saunders, Ann Arbor: U. of Michigan Press, 1960, p. 87. 

    29  Schopenhauer, p. 94. 

    30  This is a paraphrase of Victor Hugo's statement that, "Onecan resist the invasion of an army, but one cannot resist the invasionof ideas whose time has come" (Histoire d'un Crime,1852, p. 10). 

    31  Martin Jay.  The Dialectical Imagination: A Historyof the Frankfurt School and the Institute of Social Research,1923-1950,Boston: Little, Brown, 1973, p. 5. 

    32  Michael Huspek, "Toward Normative Theories of Communicationwith Reference to the Frankfurt School: An Introduction,"  CommunicationTheory,7:4, Nov. 1997, pp. 266. 

    33  http://www.niu.edu/acad/english/wac/hbrms.html  12/2/99. 

    34  Michael Pusey, Jürgen Habermas,London: Tavistock,1987, p. 14. 

    35  Craig Calhoun, ed., Habermas and the Public Sphere,Cambridge,Mass.: MIT Press, 1992, p. 5. 

    36  George Gerbner, ed., International Encyclopedia of Communication,Oxford:Oxford U. Press, 1989, p. 477. 

    37  Jürgen Habermas, "Concluding Remarks," in Calhoun, p.469. 

    38  Robert Holub, Jürgen Habermas: Critic in the PublicSphere,London: Routledge, 1991, p. 8. 

    39  Huspek, p. 274. 

    40  Joohoan Kim, On the Interactions of News Media, InterpersonalCommunication, Opinion Formation, and Participation: Deliberative Democracyand the Public Sphere,Annenberg School dissertation, Philadelphia,PA, 1997, p. 4. 

    41  Huspek, p. 269. 

    42  J. D. Peters, "Historical Tensions in the Concept of PublicOpinion," in Public Opinion and the Communication of Consent,Glasser,T. L.  &  Salmon, C. T., eds., NY: Guilford Press, 1995,p. 14. 

    43  Francesco Alberoni's Falling in Lovehas reminded meof the connections between romantic love and social movements. 

    44  Pusey, p. 69. 

    45  Calhoun, p. 5. 

    46  Ljubisa Mitrovic., "New Social Paradigm: Habermas's Theoryof Communicative Action," Facta Universitatis: Series in Philosophy& Sociology,1999, 2, 6/2(special issue), p. 217. 

    47  Huspek, p. 267. 

    48  Calhoun, p. 31. 

    49  John Keane, "Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere,"Media,Culture, and Society,v. 17, 1995, p. 9. 

    50  Nancy Fraser, "Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contributionto the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy."  In Calhoun, p. 110. 

    51  Calhoun, p. 23. 

    52  Mary P. Ryan, "Gender and Public Access: Women's Politics inNineteenth Century America," in Calhoun, p. 259. 

    53  Ryan, p. 259. 

    54  See:  Américo Paredes and Richard Bauman, eds.,TowardNew Perspectives in Folklore,Austin: U. of Texas Press, 1972. 

    55  Huspek, p. 269. 

    56  Huspek, p. 269. 

    57  Lewis Freedlan, "Electronic Democracy and the New Citizenship,"Media, Culture, and Society, April 1996,  vol 18, no 2. p. 188. 

    58  Lloyd Kramer, "Habermas, History, and Critical Theory," inCalhoun, p. 236. 

    59  Holub, p. 2. 

    60  Holub, p. 188. 

    61  Holub, p. 25. 

    62  Holub, p. 35. 

    63  Holub, p. 73. 

    64  Holub, p. 84. 

    65  Holub, p. 125. 

    66  That book was:  Jürgen Habermas and Niklas Luhmann,Theorieder Gesellschaft oder Sozialtechnologie (Theory of Society or Social Technology:What does Systems Research Accomplish?),Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1971. 

    67  Holub, p. 139. 

    68  Robert Fletcher, "The Past as Future" (book reviews), Sociology,Nov.1995, v. 29, n. 4, p. 746. 

    69  Victor S. Navasky, "Scoping Out Habermas," Media StudiesJournal,Summer 1995, v. 9, n. 3, p. 118. 

    70  Fraser, p. 110. 

    71  As cited in Holub, p. 134. 

    72  Richard J. Bernstein, ed., Habermas and Modernity, Cambridge,Mass.:MIT Press, 1985, p. 25. 

    73   Holub, p. xii. 

    74   Habermas, as cited in Navasky (1995), p. 119. 

    75   Gerbner, p. 356. 

    76   Holub, p. 2. 

    77   Habermas, 1992, p. 425. 

    78   Habermas, 1992, p. 463. 

    79   Jessica J. Kulynych, "Performing Politics: Foucault,Habermas, and Postmodern Participation," Polity,Winter 1997, v.30, n. 2, p. 340. 

    80  James Johnson and Dana R. Villa, "Public Sphere, Postmodernismand Polemic," American Political Science Review,June 1994, v. 88,n. 2, p. 434. 

    81  Kulynych, p. 320. 

    82  Johnson, p. 429. 

    83  Kulynych, p. 321. 

    84  Navasky, p. 121. 

    85  Navasky, p. 122. 

    86  Fraser, p. 130. 

    87  E-mail from Christopher Hunter, 11/19/99. 

    88  Kulynych, p. 320. 

    89  Fraser, p. 132. 

    90  Fraser, p. 132. 

    91  Jürgen Habermas, Between Facts and Norms,trans.by William Rehg, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1966, p. 307. 

    92  Habermas, 1996, p. 359. 

    93  Fraser, p. 136. 

    94  Fraser, p. 136. 

    95  Fraser, p. 136. 

    96  Calhoun, p. 39. 

    97  Fraser, p. 116. 

    98  Huspek, p. 272. 

    99  Seyla Benhabib and Fred Dallmayr, eds., The CommunicativeEthics Controversy,Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1990, p. 72. 

    100   Bruce Robbins, ed., The Phantom Public Sphere,U.of Minn. Press, 1993, p. xii. 

    101   Fraser, p. 110. 

    102   Habermas, 1992, p. 478. 

    103   Habermas, 1996, p. 361. 

    104   Habermas, 1996, p. 360. 

    105   Peters, p. 16. 

    106   Peters, p. 20. 

    107   Habermas, 1989, p. 248. 

    108   Peter Wayner, "Satellites May Clear Logjams on Net,"NewYork Times,12/2/99, p. G17. 

    109   White Pine's CU-SeeMe software program. 

    110   Pixels are the 'smallest addressable picture elements,'the irreducible building blocks, that compose the mosaic that is a TV orcomputer screen image. 

    111   Habermas, 1992, p. 471. 


    Alberoni,  Francesco.  Falling in Love. Trans. by LawrenceVenuti.  NY: Random House.  1983. 

    Benhabib, Seyla  and  Fred Dallmayr, eds.  The CommunicativeEthics Controversy. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.  1990. 

    Bernstein, Richard J., ed.  Habermas and Modernity. Cambridge,Mass.: MIT Press.  1985. 

    Calhoun, Craig, ed.  Habermas and the Public Sphere. Cambridge,Mass.: MIT Press.  1992. 

    Ewen, Stuart.  PR!: A Social History of Spin. New York:Basic Books.  1996. 

    Fletcher, Robert.  "The Past as Future" (book reviews).  Sociology,Nov.1995, v. 29, n. 4.  pp. 745-748. 

    Fraser, Nancy.  "Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution tothe Critique of Actually Existing Democracy."  In Habermas andthe Public Sphere,Calhoun, Craig, ed.  Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. 1992.  pp. 110-137. 

    Freedlan, Lewis.  "Electronic Democracy and the New Citizenship."Media,Culture, and Society,April 1996,  vol 18, no 2.  pp.185-212. 

    Hunter, Christopher.  Personal e-mail.  11/19/99. 

    Gerbner, George, ed.  International Encyclopedia of Communication.Oxford: Oxford U. Press.  1989. 

    Goode, William Josiah.  The Celebration of Heroes: Prestigeas a Social Control System. Berkeley: U. of California Press. 1978. 

    Habermas, Jürgen.  The Structural Transformation of thePublic Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society. Trans.by Thomas Burger.  Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.  1999 (1962,1989). 

    Habermas, Jürgen.  "Concluding Remarks," in Habermas andthe Public Sphere,Calhoun, Craig, ed.  Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. 1992.  pp. 462-479. 

    Habermas, Jürgen.  Between Facts and Norms. Trans.by William Rehg.  Cambridge: MIT Press.  1966. 

    Holub, Robert.  Jürgen Habermas: Critic in the Public Sphere.London: Routledge. 1991. 

    http://www.niu.edu/acad/english/wac/hbrms.html  12/2/99. 

    Huspek, Michael.  "Toward Normative Theories of Communication withReference to the Frankfurt School: An Introduction."  CommunicationTheory,7:4, Nov. 1997.  pp. 265-76. 

    Jay, Martin.  The Dialectical Imagination: A History of theFrankfurt School and the Institute of Social Research, 1923-1950. Boston:Little, Brown.  1973. 

    Johnson, James  and Dana R. Villa.  "Public Sphere, Postmodernismand Polemic."  American Political Science Review,June 1994,v. 88, n. 2.  pp. 427-434. 

    Keane, John.  "Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere."Media,Culture, and Society, v. 17, 1995.  pp. 1-31. 

    Kim, Joohoan.  On the Interactions of News Media, InterpersonalCommunication, Opinion Formation, and Participation: Deliberative Democracyand the Public Sphere. Annenberg School dissertation.  Philadelphia,PA.  1997. 

    Kramer, Lloyd.  "Habermas, History, and Critical Theory." In Habermas and the Public Sphere,Craig Calhoun, ed., Cambridge,Mass.: MIT Press.  1992.  p. 236-258. 

    Kulynych, Jessica J.  "Performing Politics: Foucault, Habermas,and Postmodern Participation."  Polity,Winter 1997, v. 30,n. 2.  pp. 315-347. 

    Meyrowitz, Joshua.  No Sense of Place. Oxford: Oxford U.Press.  1985. 

    Mitrovic, Ljubisa.  "New Social Paradigm: Habermas's Theory ofCommunicative Action."  Facta Universitatis: Series in Philosophy& Sociology,1999, 2, 6/2 (special issue).  pp. 217-223. 

    Navasky, Victor S.  "Scoping out Habermas."  Media StudiesJournal,Summer 1995, v. 9, n. 3.  pp. 117-122. 

    Peters, J. D.  "Historical Tensions in the Concept of Public Opinion,"in Public Opinion and the Communication of Consent,Glasser, T. L. and  Salmon, C. T., eds.  NY: Guilford Press.  1995. pp. 3-32. 

    Pusey, Michael.  Jürgen Habermas. London: Tavistock. 1987. 

    Rein, Irving  and Philip Kotler, Martin Stoller.  HighVisibility: The Making and Marketing of Professionals into Celebrities.Lincolnwood, Illinois: NTC Business Books.  1997. 

    Robbins, Bruce, ed.  The Phantom Public Sphere. U. of Minn.Press.  1993. 

    Rodden, John.  The Politics of Literary Reputation: The Makingand Claiming of"St. George" Orwell. New York: Oxford University Press. 1989. 

    Ryan, Mary P.  "Gender and Public Access: Women's Politics in NineteenthCentury America," in Habermas and the Public Sphere, Calhoun, Craig,ed., Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.  1992.  pp. 259-288. 

    Kramer, Lloyd.  "Habermas, History, and Critical Theory," in Habermasand thePublic Sphere,Calhoun, Craig, ed., Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. 1992.  p. 236-258. 

    Schopenhauer, Arthur.  The Art of Literature. Trans. byT. Bailey Saunders.  Ann Arbor: U. of Michigan Press, 1960. 

    Wayner, Peter.  "Satellites May Clear Logjams on Net."  NewYork Times,12/2/99.  p. G17. 

    Zuckerman,  Harriet. Scientific Elite: Nobel Laureates in theUnited States.New York: Free Press.  1977. 


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