As previously spoken about in a blog titled “Digital Coffeehouse” on my site, German Philosopher Jürgen Habermas theorised about “the public sphere”. The public sphere is a domain of social life where public opinion can be formed. Habermas characterised it by the four following dimensions:
-Formation of public opinion
-All citizens have access
-Debate over the general rules governing relations
-Conference in unrestricted fashion about matters of general interest
Using ethnography and digital methods of ethnography we can analyse and interpret interactions online in digital public spheres with characteristics described by Habermas.
Alessandro Caliandro in his Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, discusses the public and the online public. It is noted that “the public can be defined as a mediated association among strangers (for instance, through a newspaper or radio station), who are united by a temporary emotional intensity, or a better focus of attention, directed toward a common object (Bruns and Burgess 2011; Papacharissi and de Fatima Oliveira 2012)”. However, without a means of communication, a public cannot exist. A platform of some sort is needed to create such conversation and furthermore create a Habermas “sphere”.
How might a public be created in our day and age? How might I be able to converse in a public on an online platform?
A Facebook group.
Not just any Facebook group, but a Facebook group dedicated for the Aria Award winning aussie heroes Gang Of Youths. Although a closed group, anyone can join and converse about their love for lead singer/front man David Le’Aupepe. Complete strangers engage in daily discussion about the band.
An online community is created and the platform which they use to communicate and exchange personal opinions can definitely be described as an online public sphere.
Caliandro, A. (2017). Digital Methods for Ethnography: Analytical Concepts for Ethnographers Exploring Social Media Environments. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 089124161770296.doi:10.1177/0891241617702960
Jugen Habermas:German Philosopher, Martin Beck Matustik, 2009 https://www.britannica.com/biography/Jurgen-Habermas
Digital Coffeehouse Blog post: https://antslifedotblog.wordpress.com/2018/03/28/digital-coffeehouse/
Heroes, GOY: https://youtu.be/B4-YK7nZTYk