BuzzFeed: The Democratic Revival

A theory is a supposition that has explanatory powers and attempts to provide plausible and rational reason for an observed phenomenon. When it comes to media, there is an array of theories that endeavor to explain how we communicate and discuss within the media, and how media involvement influences the outcome of said discussions. A theory that best describes this notion, by way of integrating democratic views, is known as The Public Sphere, coined by German Sociologist, Jürgen Habermas.

The Public Sphere aims to answer some of the following questions:

What is “the public” and what kinds of power does it have in a representative democracy?

-How does “public opinion” shape political power and policy?

Habermas’ Public Sphere was a place where individuals and government members could meet and produce critical debate over societal matters. This was done in physical, face-to-face meetings in coffee houses, cafes and public squares. Habermas saw the public sphere as a positive force for discussion and liaising between two opposing groups.

The original concept of the Public Sphere was a realm within social life, in which, public opinion could be formed and was accessible to all. The engagement within the public sphere, according to Habermas, was blind to class positions. This, however, was not necessarily the case, as almost all gatherings in the sphere were open only to men of the working class/ bourgeoisie, excluding women from any noteworthy discussion and also excluding lower class patrons from debate that could well have impacted them. Now days, the public sphere is open to anyone, regardless of class, race, gender, age and other such discriminatory factors.

Many Millennials would state that their public sphere revolves around Facebook and social media outlets. Whilst my public sphere is also on Facebook, I credit BuzzFeed as a significant platform, on which, social debate is circulated, being open to all and free of discrimination and seclusion. Although this particular public sphere is heavily mediated, like others, such as Insight and Q&A, both airing on SBS, it is at the forefront of increasing the accessibility of social debate. Covering topics inclusive of the LGBT community, HIV and sex, Buzz feed takes controversial topics and allows them to be discussed in an open and accepting environment, making evident the transformation of the notion of the public sphere since its founding in 1962.

Where is your public Sphere?

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6 thoughts on “BuzzFeed: The Democratic Revival

  1. Hey, This blog post thoroughly explains the history and intentions behind the creation of the ‘Public Sphere’. Likewise yourself, I consider myself in the ‘Public Sphere’ of Buzzfeed as we are constantly seeing it all over our Facebook timelines and google search engines. With Buzzfeed constantly in sight we are kinda forced to watch it, especially those 30 second videos you see every 2 posts on Facebook. These videos draw you in to the ‘Public Sphere’ with the inclusion of their simplistic aesthetic and informative yet unnecessary meanings. I really like how you have used this example as it is a form of media text that I would of never considered apart of my ‘Public Sphere’ until I heard your explain it. Thanks 🙂

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  2. I really enjoyed reading your post it was informative and concise. I like that you incorporated many elements within your post, looking at different elements of the public sphere like Insight, Q&A and incorporating SBS as well was an excellent way to make the reader think about what they know as heavily mediated spheres. Furthermore, the use of placing a video at the end of your blog was great it really established this view of controversial topics that buzzed present.

    Just to further your reading I recommend having a read through The Betoota Advocate, that also tackles some difficult topics within our public sphere.

    Great work.

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  3. Your elucidation of Habermas’s ‘public sphere’ theory is very thorough! I’d like to contribute that the public sphere has become increasingly mediated, substantiated by your chosen news source, BuzzFeed. I also use BuzzFeed to access my news; well done on using a great example to relate to your audience! What could further be explored is the way in which this news source uses Snapchat to cater for their youthful audience who read on the go. I suggest looking into The Conversation (https://theconversation.com/au), which is a stark contrast to BuzzFeed in content but similarly uses a format appropriate to its audience, with “academic rigour” and “journalistic flair”.

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    • Buzzfeed is so popular these days its hard to not relate to it ! Thanks so much for your comment, much appreciated 🙂 Will definitely check out the conversation, although i have a feeling it won’t be half as entertaining as the stupid videos we sometimes see on Buzzed! Thanks again Jessica 🙂

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