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  The Concept of the Public Sphere

According to social critic and philosopher Jürgen Habermas "public sphere" first of all means "... a domain of our social life in which such a thing as public opinion can be formed. Access to the public sphere is open in principle to all citizens. A portion of the public sphere is constituted in every conversation in which private persons come together to form a public. They are then acting neither as business or professional people conducting their private affairs, nor as legal consociates subject to the legal regulations of a state bureaucracy and obligated to obedience. Citizens act as a public when they deal with matters of general interest without being subject to coercion; thus with the guarantee that they may assemble and unite freely, and express and publicize their opinions freely."

The system of the public sphere is extremely complex, consisting of spatial and communicational publics of different sizes, which can overlap, exclude and cover, but also mutually influence each other. Public sphere is not something that just happens, but also produced through social norms and rules, and channeled via the construction of spaces and the media. In the ideal situation the public sphere is transparent and accessible for all citizens, issues and opinions. For democratic societies the public sphere constitutes an extremely important element within the process of public opinion formation.

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Jürgen Habermas
Jürgen Habermas (b. 1929) is the leading scholar of the second generation of the Frankfurt School, a group of philosophers, cultural critics and social scientists associated with the Institute for Social Research, founded in Frankfurt in 1929. The Frankfurt School is best known for its program of developing a "critical theory of society". Habermas was a student of Adorno, becoming his assistant in 1956. He first taught philosophy at Heidelberg before becoming a professor of philosophy and sociology at the University of Frankfurt. In 1972, he moved to the Max-Planck Institute in Starnberg, but in the mid-1980s, he returned to his post at Frankfurt.