Title: Analysis of the Role of Media in Society Considering the Idea of the Public Sphere.

Essay by littlebirdC, February 2004

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Analysis of the Role of Media in Society Considering the Idea of the Public Sphere

In 1960s, German philosopher Jurgen Habermas posed "the public sphere" theory. "'The public sphere' means a realm of our social life in which something approaching public opinion can be formed. Access is guaranteed to all citizens"(Habermas, 1964: p.49). The public sphere theory helps understand the role of mass media in contemporary society.

"The public sphere as a sphere which mediates between society and state, in which the public organizes itself as the bearer or public opinion, accords with the principle of the public sphere" (Habermas, 1964: p.50). Media also provide for the public a space to express their opinions. According to McGuigan(1998), "the ideal of a domestic system of mass communication can be called 'the public sphere'"(p.91). In this sense, media have the similar functions with the public sphere in the society. The "principle of the public sphere" also affects media.

As "public communication lies at the heart of the democratic process" (Garnham, 1986: p.37), the political influences are no doubt included in the "principle". Media contents are influenced by the government so media only provide limit space for the audience to express their views. The Newspaper, as "the first medium capable of reaching a mass audience" (Ward 1989: p.21), emerged for "[engendering] political responses to the social and economic problems" (Ward 1989: p.21). Hence media have strong relationship with politics from the beginning. It is clear that media are not designed against governments even many critical features often appear in them. They just "convince people [one party] can serve them better than the present discredited [party]" (BBC News Online, 2003). Thus, governments and political parties always have to influence media for support, and once governments and political parties involve in media, the information that...