Conflicting forms of use: the potential of and limits to the use of the internet as a public sphere

Salter, Lee (2007) Conflicting forms of use: the potential of and limits to the use of the internet as a public sphere. Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.

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Abstract / Description

This thesis examines the potential of and limits to the use of the Internet as a public sphere. To this end it considers the claim that the Internet is or can be a public sphere. To do this there are two related spheres of enquiry: the `public sphere' and `the Internet'.
The enquiry into the concept of the public sphere is based on an engagement with the work of Jürgen Habermas. The concern of this thesis is to draw on the wider corpus of Habermas's work to develop a model of the public sphere that takes account of his thesis of `colonisation'. Because the process of colonisation results in systemically distorted communication the liberal model of the public sphere is replaced with a model of a `radical' public sphere. These two concepts, the radical public sphere and colonisation then form the basis for the investigation into the potential of the Internet.
The Internet, like other technologies, cannot, however, be considered in abstraction of its use. Therefore, a theory of `forms of use' is developed, through which the potential of and limits to media can be analysed. This term considers technologies to be socially constructed, and this social construction tends to meet the needs of dominant material forces in society; that is, technologies are not neutral or autonomous but neither are they necessarily completely controllable. A technology is rarely onedimensional, for the basic technology may contain a variety of potential uses. Different case studies are presented in order to show how these different forms of use of the Internet can be supported. However, we can understand that certain `systemic' colonising forms of use of the Internet threaten the functioning of other, radical forms of use. This colonisation requires juridification' through political, legal, socio-cultural and economic frameworks for production, exchange and consumption The limits to the use of the Internet as a public sphere are not, however, inherent features of the technology itself, but pertain to its use under a system in which certain social practices and institutions have priority over others. Under these conditions, the use of the Internet as a radical public sphere takes place as a continual struggle against dominant forms of us.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: uk.bl.ethos.520062
Uncontrolled Keywords: Internet; public sphere; Jürgen Habermas; colonisation; technologies
Subjects: 300 Social sciences > 320 Political science
Department: School of Social Sciences and Professions
School of Social Sciences (to June 2021)
Depositing User: Chiara Repetto
Date Deposited: 13 May 2022 10:50
Last Modified: 13 May 2022 10:50
URI: http://repository.londonmet.ac.uk/id/eprint/7624

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