The Media Theory Toolbox- The Public Sphere

The Public Sphere is generally thought of as the social space in which different opinions are expressed, problems of general concern are discussed, and collective solutions are developed communicatively (Oxford Bibliographies).

“By ‘Public Sphere’ we mean first of all a domain of our social life in which such a thing as public opinion can be formed.”- Jurgen Habermas

Where is your public sphere?

The quote above mentioned our ‘social life’, a concept I thought I lacked because I don’t really “go out”. Even though I don’t “go out” and socialise with people face to face, my social life is online and mainly on my phone or my laptop. I love social media and therefore I spend majority of my time on there. Watching videos, commenting, learning new skills, making content, it doesn’t matter what it is that I’m doing, I’m always on it! To ask me where my public sphere is, the only answer I feel is most accurate to give is- online.

How does it operate?

My online public sphere operates differently depending on the online/social media platform I’m on. My favourites are Youtube and Instagram. I love them both for the same reasons. I can communicate with others in comment sections of posts or the comments on my own posts, I love creating my own video content which I feel has helped me build my confidence and I love how there is always something that I can learn or something to keep me entertained. Considering our current circumstances, these platforms are great for anyone to use!

What are the issues that come up?

Privacy is something that people may have an issue with as they may want to keep their lives private. Another issue, the more obvious one, technical difficulty or lack of internet or WIFI. Although these may seem obvious, they are a major issue that prevents millions of people from being a pert of this public sphere. Of course in order to use the internet or WIFI, a device is crucial. Without it is impossible to be part of this particular public sphere.

Who is included (and excluded)?

Anyone who chooses to be part of the online public sphere is included and anyone who chooses to stay away is simply choosing to be excluded. 18 million Australians currently have at least one active social media account (Talkwalker Blog, 2019). This shows us that more Australians choose to be part of the online public sphere.

What role does ‘the media’ play in all of this?

My public sphere can also act as ‘the media’ as long as I choose to follow the accounts or I actively search for the media accounts. I prefer to filter my public sphere and keep clear from traditional media and keep my public sphere as my happy place.



Dan, 2019, “Social Media Statistics in Australia”, Talkwalker, [online], 31 July, viewed 20th April 2020,

Freudenthaler, R. , Wessler, H. , 2018, “Public Sphere”, Oxford Bibliographies, [online], 11 January, viewed 19th of April 2020,

Thornham, S. , Bassett, C. , Marris, P. , 2009, Media Theories: A reader (Chapter 5- The Public Sphere Jurgen Habermas), Edinburgh University Press, [online], viewed 19th of April 2020,

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