Neue Publikation: Digital Public Sphere

The emergence and existence of a digital public sphere has been an issue of intense theoretical debate and numerous empirical studies. Scholars have tried to establish whether and to what extent an online equivalent, or substitute, for the seemingly deficient ‘old’ public sphere has developed. They have analyzed whether participation in online and social media is open and visible to all, how communication is structured in terms of content, reciprocity and style, and what effects such debates have on participants as well as decision-makers. Overall, they have shown that the digital public sphere tends to successfully make diverse actors and their positions visible, and at least sometimes influences other fora and collectively binding decision-making. Studies have also shown that although digital public spheres exhibit a range of communicative styles, they only rarely conform to ideas of rationality and civility as advocated by participatory, deliberative theory.

Schäfer, M.S. (2016). Digital Public Sphere. In Mazzoleni, Gianpietro (2015, Ed.): The International Encyclopedia of Political Communication. London: Wiley Blackwell. Pp. 322-328.
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