Hannu Nieminen

Title of the presentation:
Theories of the Public Sphere and their critique

Short abstract of the presentation:
The lecture will discuss four main themes. First, the historical context of the emergence of the concept will be presented. The differences and similarities of the main proponents (Habermas and Dewey) will be outlined. Secondly, the Habermasian concept of the Public Sphere will be explained. Especially the division between the political and the cultural dimensions of the Public Sphere is discussed. Thirdly, the main criticisms to the Habermasian concept will be explored: historical, Marxist, feminist, radical-democratic and other lines of critique are presented. The nation state based concept of the Habermasian Public Sphere will be contrasted to a more transnational concept of the public sphere (or public spheres). And fourthly, a “lighter” or realistic concept of the public sphere will be discussed, weighing the overall usefulness of the concept in the present transnational European constellation.

Short biography:
Hannu Nieminen is professor of media and communication policy and head of Media and Communication Studies at the Department of Social Research, University of Helsinki, Finland. He received his PhD in 1996 at the University of Westminster, London. His research interests include media and democracy, theories of public sphere, and communication policy and regulation, on which themes he has published several books and articles. His monographs include People Stood Apart: the Constitution of the National Public Sphere in Finland 1809-1917 (2006, in Finnish), Hegemony and the Public Sphere (2000), and Democracy and Communication: Habermas, Williams, and the British Case (1997). AREAS OF EXPERTISE: Media and democracy; Media and communications policy and regulation; Theories of the Public Sphere.