Publics and Publicity: Towards a Pragmatist Enquiry

What is publicity – not in the sense of advertising, but in the political sense of ‘being public’ or ‘making public’? From the outset, the different uses of the adjective ‘public’ hint at the difficulty of this question. The public sphere is defined as a space for communication and mediation between the state and civil society; the public domain also refers to the area of control of property and the exercise of state authority, as opposed to the market. Public life, as opposed to private life, unfolds in places open to sociability, meetings and gatherings. For feminists, ‘public life’ also designates the world of work and the street, which women have conquered after being shut in the family or domestic sphere. Public goods raise a problem for neoclassical economists insofar as their benefits are collective and indivisible; public interest is opposed to individual interest, public utility to private utility. A public place is accessible to anyone, to circulate, to be seen or to express oneself without any restrictions. Public conduct is visible to a public, unlike conduct that is hidden, secret or dissimulated from the public’s attention. These various polarities in the meaning between public/private, state/market, work/family, visible/secret, accessible/reserved are intermingled in the experience that we have of publicity. In this paper, we will focus on this idea of ‘publicity’ as first conceived by work on Öffentlichkeit1  – literally, ‘openness’, but the translations as ‘public sphere’ or ‘espace public’ have undoubtedly rigidified it by emphasising the spatial dimension.

From the public sphere to the discursive turn: contours of a research field

Thus, historians, philosophers and sociologists began researching publics and counterpublics in the wake of Jürgen Habermas. While fleshing out this notion, their research has shown variability, depending on the places and eras, of the criteria of public and private as forms of experience and operations of categorisation. A discursive conception of the public has mainly held sway, finding its strongest expression in the research on deliberative democracy, even if this conception has already been surpassed by the incorporation of social and institutional factors.

The public use of reason and the genesis of the public sphere: Habermas and the historians

Habermas’s foundational book was published in 1962 and translated as The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society.2  This book was preceded in 1958 by Hannah Arendt’s inquiry in The Human Condition, in which she points out a ‘public space of appearance’, i.e the space of praxis (action or political activity), not degraded into poiesis (mere reproduction) or bios (human life). Following on her investigation into totalitarian regimes, she focused again on Ancient Greece, looking at the place of speech of the Athenian polis, in order to identify what she believed was the condition of possibility for political action.3  The late 1950s were apparently a key period, as Reinhart Koselleck published his Critique and Crisis at almost the same time. This book retraces a history of how the absolutist state imposed its sovereignty in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, by relegating moral matters to the private sphere; this process weakened and destabilised the political order.4

Jean-François de Troy, A Reading from Molière (circa 1728)

Jean-François de Troy, A Reading from Molière (circa 1728)

In his seminal work, Habermas reuses and amplifies this perspective, but reverses its direction.5  Building on Hans Speier’s approach, he puts forth a philosophical genealogy of the principle of publicity that goes back to Kant’s proposal to make the ‘public use of reason’ the ‘method of the Aufklärung’.6  Habermas, fully in line with the Enlightenment project of modernity, resorts to this principle of publicity as a relevant normative category for political critique and as an analytical model applicable to historical change.

On the one hand, in terms of political critique, Habermas builds on the research of the Frankfurt ‘School’, while nevertheless breaking with it: the emergence of a rhetorical subject, ‘public opinion’, and of the network of categories, activities and institutions that support it imposes a re-evaluation of the dialectic of reason. Therefore, the anchoring for this new belief in the existence of ‘public opinion’ is not only ideological, but also signals a break in the institution of the political order. Moreover, it goes hand in hand with the exercise of rational discussion by enlightened bourgeois publics, seeking less to take power than to criticise its arbitrary, secretive and divine nature. On the other hand, Habermas reconstructs an analytical model of the public sphere by investigating the inquiries of historians in various empirical fields: economics, law, journalism, art history, elections, social institutions or private life. He calls for a comparative history of the genesis of a public sphere, between rise and decline, partway between the state and civil society, in France, Britain and Germany since the eighteenth century.

The cover of the first German edition of Public Sphere of Jürgen Habermas, in 1961.
The cover of the first English edition of Public Sphere of Jürgen Habermas, in 1962.

The cover of the first German and English edition of The Public Sphere of Jürgen Habermas, in 1961 and 1962.

Habermas’s Public Sphere has become a classic – even though it was not translated into French until 1978, not into English until eleven years later. Although his theses have been highly disputed, his work has fuelled numerous research programmes that have accredited his thesis on public opinion even as they have rectified the assemblage of facts underlying his analysis.7  Considerable research has been published on cafés, clubs and salons – places where people comment on the news and converse according to the rites of sociability of various social milieus, with the ‘art of conversation’ and ‘spirit of society’ supporting a ‘politics of worldliness’.8  Other researchers have focused on other places of discussion, also exclusive and selective, such as the Masonic lodges or the chambrées provençales so dear to Maurice Agulhon.9  The place of Parlements in resistance to the royal court has been investigated, as has the history of scientific societies and literary academies. Research of petitions, mazarinades (political pamphlets), rumours, newspapers and gazettes, epistolary correspondence, popular songs and hawker literature, from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries, has described many different channels (both written and oral) for public speech.10  This research has reconstructed the development of a network of institutions: publishing houses, bookstores and libraries, press bodies, theatres and concert venues, curiosity cabinets and later museums, etc. These institutions became a core around which publics, types of publicity and genres of publications gradually took form.11

Joseph Highmore, Figures dans une taverne ou un Coffee House (1725)

Joseph Highmore, Figures in a Tavern or Coffee House (1725)

In the end, a panoramic mural is now available to us. This mural stretches all the way back to the Middle Ages12  and includes the places where political, aesthetic, literary and scientific modernity was invented. This history of publics was also the opportunity for a fruitful encounter between social history and cultural history in the 1980s and 1990s. Did the principle of publicity derive from conceptual innovation or sociopolitical mutation?13 In the wake of François Furet’s interpretation of the French Revolution, should researchers look at the invention of a new symbolic order, and the realm of political speech ushered in by the Atlantic Revolutions? Or relate the new norms of beauty, truth, rights and justice, as well as their claims to universality, to the social milieus, economic markets or technical systems that made them possible?

The ‘counter-publics’ strike back: women, blacks, proletarians

Very early on, feminists in the United States challenged Habermas’s views. A 1990 article by Nancy Fraser had a considerable and long-lasting influence; this article summarises several of the issues of this debate.14  In opposition to the idea of a neutralisation of differences of gender, status or race, Fraser emphasises that certain categories of people were absent from the public sphere. The ideal of universality, equality and liberty was, in her view, a mere screen for relations of domination, exclusion and discrimination. In opposition to the emancipating reach of free, rational debate, Foster noted the public sphere’s inability to take charge of a certain number of opinions, interests and identities: the boundaries of anti-absolutist politics kept at a distance people deemed incapable, subjects of discussion considered irrelevant, or demands for rights that were unbearable for a new political class. As a result, research focused on this absence of women or proletarians in the inner sanctums reserved mainly for men and bourgeois:15  the parlour game societies, clubs, cafés and salons viewed as the privileged venues for public speech.

March on Washington, D.C. for Jobs and Freedom, August 28, 1963
Martin Luther King devant le Mémorial de Lincoln à Washington, le 28 août 1963.
March on Washington, D.C. for Jobs and Freedom August 28, 1963.

March on Washington, D.C. for Jobs and Freedom August 28, 1963.

Following along the same path, the next step was to ‘exhume’ publics composed of proletarians and women, situated on the margins of the corpus of individuals/citizens assumed to form the ‘bourgeois public’, which had gone unnoticed by scholars. Leaving aside the early endeavour by Oskar Negt and Alexander Kluge, in Germany in the 1970s, to pick out a ‘proletarian public sphere’,16  the literature on counterpublics proliferated in the late 1980s/early 1990s. This breakthrough in thinking about class and gender rapidly found an echo in terms of race: numerous works were published in the US, attempting to identify the places of a ‘black public sphere’.17  Moreover, whereas some people were bidding farewell to the proletariat and others (in France) were nursing nostalgia for the ‘working classes’, there was a convergence in the late 1970s and early 1980s between research on the emergence of new social movements and on the rise of a ‘new civil society’.18  This theme would soon be backed by events in China, Eastern Europe and South America. The battle of counterpublics was a new episode in this story.

Thus, the topology that still holds sway is that of a ‘public sphere’, predominantly ‘male, white and bourgeois’, surrounded by other public spheres; the latter are not acknowledged by the elite, the media and intellectuals because they are not on the radar screen of official knowledge. These other spheres are held in a subordinate status due to ideological influence, cultural hegemony or symbolic domination – depending on whether reference is being made to Marx, Gramsci or Bourdieu. Yet at the same time, a collective sense of resistance, critique and rebellion is at work in these spheres. This collective sense is hard to decipher because the experiential contexts in which it is at play are foreign to the keepers of ‘cultural authority’ or ‘symbolic power’, and because it is expressed in ‘hidden transcriptions’, through the use of ‘alternative codes’.19  Thanks to a globalization process that has shaken up intellectual life, subaltern studies – imported from the Indian subcontinent – have added to these reflections. The terms ‘marginal’ and ‘subaltern’ have therefore become frequent descriptors for ‘counterpublics’. In this context, Michael Burawoy – reviving the radical stance of Charles Wright Mills, who in turn was the heir of a progressive and pragmatist tradition – called for a ‘public sociology’.20

Hippolyte Bellangé, The 26 July 1830. Lecture of ordonnances in Le Moniteur, at Palais Royal Gardens (1831). 

Hippolyte Bellangé, The 26 July 1830. Lecture of ordonnances in Le Moniteur, at Palais Royal Gardens (1831). 

In this subfield of research, the issue of the public sphere overlapped that of ‘identity and difference politics’ and incorporated a Gramscian view of ‘power struggles’. Particular attention has been paid to social, sexual and racial inequalities and asymmetries, as well as modes of control and censorship exercised by the state and the market. Likewise for ‘distortions in communication processes’ and blocking of access to the political process, situations of submission to the supply of media messages, or incapacity due to a lack of time, lack of education or ideological blindness. Lastly, research in this movement has differentiated public spheres, linked to pre-existing communities of life and meaning.

This last point is, of course, problematic. The researchers appear to repeat the same paradox as the actors themselves: while acknowledging the generative nature of these movements, they are tempted to assign these publics to their status in terms of class, gender or race. Moreover, the same question arises for ‘free spaces’, places where people of the same gender can talk freely (e.g., women’s awareness groups).21 However, it would be an illusion to attribute positive boundaries to these areas of collective freedom. The things that are said and done in these ‘free spaces’ are intended, either obliquely or directly, for other audiences: the state, media, other social movements, the general public. In other words, these counter-publics are open; often, they are exclusive only on a temporary basis as a reaction to another stronger exclusion suffered by their members. This situation is even truer when fighting against the deadly, panoptic and repressive pseudo-publicity of authoritarian regimes. In sum, what must be conceptualized is the twofold relationship of being rooted in social and cultural milieus, and at the same time, being torn away from these milieus in a dynamic of publicisation. Otherwise, the notion of ‘public’ would be superfluous.

Moreover, everything lies in the ‘counter’ of counterpublic. What should this term encompass? Undoubtedly, it is an indication of an awareness of the processes of dispossession and fragmentation of experiences, institutional powerlessness, cultural alienation and collective amnesia – the very processes that many social movements are combatting. However, it can refer to very different protest and organisational strategies. Based on black civil rights movements in the United States, Catherine Squires has thus proposed a typology – one possibility among many – that distinguishes between ‘enclave publics’, ‘counterpublics’ and ‘satellites publics’.22  ‘Enclave publics’ group together members that are forced to hide, to play a double game and to use secret codes (e.g. slave songs in the Antebellum South) to escape punishment while organising the Underground Railroad, a clandestine network to help fugitive slaves). These enclave publics are more a type of proto-public, groups that are paradoxically unable to act in public even though they aspire to! ‘Counterpublics’, in contrast, resort to a broader range of protest actions, openly confronting their adversaries in public debates, albeit not without facing reactions such as threats, censorship, disqualification, paternalism or being hijacked for other purposes (e.g. the 1960s civil rights movement). ‘Satellite publics’, meanwhile, fully assume their alternative nature and seek no compromises with their adversaries or recognition; they produce their own organisation, rhetoric and imagery, with the risk of veering towards self-segregation (e.g. Nation of Islam).

Samuel Alken, Oyster Room near the theatres -Time 3 o’Clock in the Morning’ (1823)

Samuel Alken, Oyster Room Near the Theatres -Time 3 o’Clock in the Morning (1823)

Extending on research about political and media publics,23  we could continue to explore recent investigations of the Internet and ‘new information and communication technologies’ (such as blogs, mailing lists, social networks or alternative media) to assess what is ‘counter’ about media counterpublics. Dominique Cardon and Fabien Granjon, for example, have distinguished between platforms of critical information, which are bound to the classic criteria of investigative journalism, and spaces for aesthetic and political experimentation. The latter, in an optic of breaking with the official or critical public spaces, claim to create new information formats and canons.24  The rise in the number of ‘counter’ figures would undoubtedly prompt us to take a fresh look at this category, which may also encompass direct action and civil disobedience, self-managed companies or cooperative networks, radical happenings or subversive publications, aesthetic resistance or microcredit… with a wide variety of degrees of formalisation, centralisation, hierarchisation and institutionalisation, capacities for invention of alternative practices, social organisations and cultural formats, and modes for breaking with or integrating the market or the state.25

The contribution of feminism: private and public as forms of experience and operations of categorisation

All these questions that Habermas did not consider have made the view of the public more complex. However, the critical power of the concept of publicity has faded until it has virtually disappeared. The demand for universality in public debate has been lost in the materiality of interests and forces present. Today, it is no longer rare for ‘counterpublic’ to be a substitute for ‘opposition movement’. The search for ‘counter-powers’ of collective protest would be equivalent to investigating the public. The opposition between ‘dominant’ publics and ‘dominated’, ‘subaltern’ or ‘alternative’ counter-publics becomes a functional equivalent to the old class struggle. Rather than denouncing ‘publicity’ as an ideological fiction, or conversely, defending it as a political requisite – two legitimate attitudes in civic life, depending on the situation – let’s see which uses can be made of it.

Woman suffrage parade in London, 1914

Woman suffrage parade in London, 1914

An initial clarification would involve an investigation of the multiple meanings that the categories of public and private take on in various contexts. In the introduction to this paper, we looked at these semantic shifts between descriptions of spaces, interests, goods or conducts.26  There is no private sphere that is radically opposed to a public sphere. Moreover, in Habermas’s initial model, the two spheres mirrored each other (on the one hand, the spheres of the state and the court; on the other, the spheres of market and the family), before merging into a bourgeois public sphere. The bourgeois public sphere itself would unravel into spheres of social control and political acclaim, subject to the twofold distortion of state intervention and market colonisation. This topography already hinted at the multiple interconnections and overlapping that these orders of experience and action can cause, as well as the forms of ambivalence, hesitations, dissimulations and instrumentalisations that can afflict the ‘public’ category.27

We could take this inquiry further by adopting the feminist approach of pointing to the instability of the moral boundaries of daily life, the constant renegotiation of these boundaries in interpersonal relationships or ‘intimate transactions’.28  Research of the spatio-temporal distribution of private/public experiences within the household, or of the transformation of the ways in which the domestic sphere and the working sphere are shared in the realm of advanced capitalism, also fits into this perspective.29  Two seminal collective research programmes covering the long period – History of Private Life and History of Women in the West – also come to mind. These works shed light on the variations in these categories depending on the milieus and the eras.30 Other examples are the biographies of women entrepreneurs and activists who challenged the domestic status they were restricted to, and became involved in public life.31

In fact, the relationship between private and public is at the centre of the transformations that have affected all the dimensions of daily life in an accelerated fashion since the 1960s. Family life was considered private for two centuries, but as soon as it no longer appeared natural, once ties of subordination were recognised and a public took shape to denounce these ties, then the asymmetrical sharing of household tasks or men’s violence towards women and children became public matters. Public arenas formed around legal and political demands, but more radically, moral sensibilities were transformed. New trials arose to test oneself or others, whereas gender identities and relationships were criticised. This new cartography of ordinary experiences cannot be dissociated from the institution of social agencies, policing and justice systems that won the right, on behalf of the public, to look into family matters. Women’s ‘personal’ experience of their own bodies, as well as the freedom to choose whether to have children, relationships with men, autonomy at work and control of their own futures became more mature due to ‘public’ battles for childcare, contraception and abortion. The lines of demarcation between the private and the public shifted.

Emmeline Pankhurst, one of the leaders of the suffragette movement, is being arrested in front of the Buckingham palace as she was trying to present a petition to the king George V, in May 1914
Freedom Trash Can manifestation in Atlantic City, 1968

Emmeline Pankhurst, one of the leaders of the suffragette movement, is being arrested in front of the Buckingham palace as she was trying to present a petition to the king George V, in May 1914 (left) and Freedom Trash Can manifestation in Atlantic City, 1968 (right).

By adopting an even more contextual approach, we would find the lability of these public/private categorisations to be surprising. Thus, on the scale of a collective movement, gender boundaries can be blurred. The long Clinton Corn strike (Iowa, 1979-1980), which interrupted the ties of authority between company bosses, managers and workers, also shook up the instituted divisions between private and public conduct, as well as the related prerogatives of men and women. Women had to become breadwinners, while men became homekeepers, upturning the gender of public and private space.32  This opposition becomes even more complicated if we reason not in terms of spheres, but in terms of commitments. Public commitment can involve non-public paths, and can be made by women workers, citizens, consumers, athletes, housewives, churchgoers or hobbyists.

Ford Factory workers attend a conference on pay equality, the 28 June 1968. 

Ford Factory workers attend a conference on pay equality, the 28 June 1968. 

The distinction between public and private is not fixed in its essence; it is modulated according to the type of commitment in a particular situation. Thus, there is not a public sphere that would be a specialised, well-circumscribed domain (as opposed to the domestic sphere), controlled by men (as opposed to women) or by professionals (as opposed to amateurs). Each individual participates in the public sphere as soon as he or she switches to certain forms of experience or meshes into certain realms of action and justification – with his or her other capacities being made dormant or withdrawn. Activities, places and relations are not public per se; they become public or cease to be public based on the commitments driving them.

A discursive conception of public reason – and afterward?

This set of feminist studies research is all the more interesting because it goes beyond the framework of a discursive analyse discursive, in the strict sense,33  to describe the levels of interaction or contexts of daily life. However, this is an acceptation of publicity, in terms of justification through processes of argumentation, dialogue or communication, that remains predominant today among philosophers or political scientists who, as heirs to Rawls, Habermas or Elster, are thinking about deliberative democracy. The normative force of public reason can therefore be linked to the production of arguments that are considered universal because they are rigorously rational in their assumptions and their formulations. This normative force can be attributed to the respect for a series of procedural conditions that ensure that communicational exchanges are directed by the public good rather than by selfish interests, and that they follow fair game rules. In other words, the public is the business of rational, reasonable individuals who adhere to a single conception of public reason and agree on the premises of a public justification with universal value or the procedures to follow to formulate admissible arguments.

Scarlett Johansson speacks at the Womens March in Washington, 21 January 2017. 

Another possibility is that the normative force of this public reason derives from the expressive legitimacy of collective demands which, so long as they are not imposed through violence, express the needs, interests or identities that have been silenced, ignored or repressed. Voices of resistance make themselves heard by the public. These voices take the form of historical narratives or personal testimonials, and often match the genres of filmmaking, songs, novels or poetry rather than public debate. The criterion of expressive authenticity then prevails over that of argumentative validity. A significant place is given to imagination and emotion in this type of demand, which is specific to a policy of recognition for subaltern groups.34

The journal Public Culture has echoed this kind of expressive publicity, which has also altered the classic conception of publicity originating in Europe and the United States, shifting it to different ways of creating or referring to the public good. Other community or institutional arrangements have appeared, publicised through other dramatic, rhetorical or narrative devices – whether we think of the pedagogical improvisations of the Theatre of the Oppressed which flourished in South America35  or the sophisticated games of transgression through humour in al-Assad’s Syria.36 The very word ‘public’ is often unavailable in other languages: they must delve into their historical depths to invent a term that will describe certain contexts of experience and activity. We might think of the grievances, complaints and requests addressed to China’s State Bureau for Letters and Visits, which borrow from not only legal language, but also from Communist ideology, the Maoist legacy or folk culture.37

Thus, the public space is conceived as a place for exchanging rational arguments, for the reflexive circulation of discourse, the expression of collective identities or the formation of public opinion. Other research has shifted the investigation of these questions of validity and authenticity towards determining a spectrum of possibilities for enunciation of public discourse. The best known in France is the enterprise derived from the sociology of housing estates.38  In this framework, public justifications are admissible (in the sense of being understandable and acceptable) only if they adhere to a grammar of proper public speech.39  This approach has given rise to attempts at international comparisons, in particular with Russia and the United States.40  Another path was suggested by Joseph Gusfield, in his cultural analysis of the public problem of drunk driving. Gusfield highlighted dramatic and rhetorical repertories of the ‘culture of public problems’. By setting aside the value of the truth of scientific statements and the instrumental scope of public measures, Gusfield dealt with the legal and political measures as rites, and knowledge about alcohol or driving as myths.41  In this ironic perspective, the public arena becomes the product of acts of communication: the public is created in the carrying out of performances and the uttering of arguments intended to restore the threatened public order. Determining versions of reality does not derive so much from an activity of deliberation, inquiry or experimentation, as from the designation of a scapegoat and the resolving of a symbolic crisis. The operations of public policy, science and law reiterate the intelligibility, rationality, stability and predictability of social worlds.

A meeting with a women's association in the palaver house at Honhoué, Benin.

A meeting with a women's association in the palaver house at Honhoué, Benin.

All this research has paid extremely close attention to the processes of public discussion and their various modes of existence. This research oscillates from the pluralist and cooperative version of public deliberation proposed by James Bohman42  to the forceful version of ballistic publicity by Francis Chateauraynaud,43  not to mention all the liberal, republican and communitarian variants of French public debate. It has navigated in a space of possibilities between a dialogical publicity, aimed at intersubjective understanding through genuine exchanges, and the agonistic publicity of the ‘culture war’, with its imagery of irreconcilable values. Researchers have at times moved the cursor from argumentative publicity to expressive publicity, serving the recognition of identities denied, rights reclaimed or wrongs suffered. Sometimes, researchers have limited themselves to a grammatical analysis of the public justification or have promoted a dramatist or rhetorical interpretation of public order. However, all have concurred with the diagnosis of a discursive turn in research about the public space. Yet understanding the life of publics does not only entail discourse operations, but also actions that anchor these discourses in ecologies: transforming everyday environment involves much more than merely discussing what is good, true or just.

Ecology and pragmatism: Another perspective on publicity

In the second part of this section, we will focus on a few elements for determining the public – elements that go beyond this discursive conception. It proves crucial to take a new look at the pragmatism of John Dewey, George Herbert Mead or Mary Parker Follett and the constellation of progressive authors who were thinking about a new politics from the 1890s to the 1920s. The public is grasped through an ecological and processual reasoning, as the collective life of a growing organism, questioning and experimenting while creating new environments, and in counterpoint, new experiences, relationships, interests and identities. In this pragmatist perspective, the transformation of the milieus of publicisation encompasses the exchange of discourse about the public good.

The public forms itself through dynamics of problematisation and publicisation: problems, identities and interests

Let’s begin with the definition that Dewey gives of the public in The Public and its Problems. The public comes together in a collective dynamic of association, cooperation and communication around a problem. People or groups who feel concern about the negative consequences of an action or event, even if they are indirectly exposed, seek to know, limit, reduce, control, regulate or eliminate these negative consequences. This definition may appear innocuous at first glance, but it has a scope that Dewey could not have suspected when he was writing his response to Walter Lippmann.44

A first crucial point is the fact that the public forms itself through the collective dynamic that it creates. The public is not a community of interests or identities that feels solidarity because it refers in anticipation to the same social conditions and arrangements. It increases awareness, mobilises, enrols and commits, brings together and unites. It causes a change in status. It creates new interests by driving new forms of sociability and solidarity, by grouping together new collectives around goods (either real or ideal) that their members cherish and which push them to band together, to get along and to fight for something. It forges new identities by making these new collectives visible, by fitting them into new dramatic, rhetorical and narrative orders that give rise to new alignments of organisations and feelings of belonging. These interests and these identities are therefore not ‘objectively determined’: they take form during the dynamic of problematisation and publicisation.45

In other words, the customary reasoning must be reversed. It is not the condition of women that led them to revolt and protest. Instead, it is because they begin to question what they are living through, to step out of the taken-for-granted realm that governed their ordinary experiences, to discover shared characteristics that they had never noticed before in their respective lives, to deem situations to be unacceptable and to produce descriptions and interpretations of these situations – then they realise that there is a condition of women, which they deem to be unacceptable. They make a public use of their critical reason; they exercise their capacity to feel, to become indignant and to imagine new things together. They go from a categorisation as individuals to denunciations and demands as a public. They give themselves the rhetorical, institutional, legal and political means to have their voices heard and their rights respected. It is in this collective dynamic that something like a ‘condition’, an ‘interest’ or an ‘identity’ of women can crystallise.

Moreover, the distinctive feature of the public is to bring forth its audiences, its issues, its factions and battle lines. It fashions forms of experience, their tension points and places of questioning. It opens up forums for discussion, fields of enquiry and places for experimentation. It can never be fitted over what existed previously, even if it conveys – more or less clearly for those who are its stakeholders – interests and identities from other political arenas and other social worlds. It constantly rearranges living environments and redirects the ways in which the people affected by it see, say and do. It makes itself emerge.

The demonstration in Sao Paulo, in August 2011, against the construction of the Belo dam.

The demonstration in Sao Paulo, in August 2011, against the construction of the Belo dam.

In this sense, the public must be conceived in a verbal mode rather than a nominal one: it is a flow or a process of publicisation. It unfurls itself, stabilises and sometimes retracts in configurations of actors – individuals, organisations and institutions – that contribute, at a given point in time, to the definition and control of public problems. The public cannot be the property of one gender, social class or racial group, a local community or any other organisation that represents professional, religious, economic or political interests… It sparks contact among people who do not know one another, and is open by rights to anyone who is concerned about a common good, even if in reality, there are always entry fees to pay and more or less insidious forms of exclusion. Likewise, a public addresses audiences that are outside the scope of the social categories directly concerned by its purpose and from whom it can expect the highest sympathy. However, it is a contradiction in terms to believe that a public can be only proletarian, black or female: it is always in excess of the already-instituted social group. What binds its members together is not a social property or a material condition, but rather a common concern.

The public as a generative matrix of configurations of relationships: from gatherings to networks

However, this reversal hits upon a difficulty: once we abandon a static approach that refers to supposedly stable pre-existing identities, how can we grasp the public? Where and when can we observe and describe it? Through which methods can we reconstruct it? Here we can note a few research pathways that have endeavoured to depict publics in space and time.

The degree zero of publicity would be given in the public gathering, as described by Erving Goffman.46  Passers-by, unknown to one another, meet in an anonymous place: the trial of seeing and being seen, of pluralism of customs, uses and habits derive from a first experience of urban publicity.47  This publicity, which happens in the order of interaction, can be oriented towards a focus of shared attention and placed at the service of public protest, chiefly occupations, meetings or demonstrations. The public is then born out of this gathering in co-presence and political publicity is embodied here and now in perceptible forms. These publics in action are interesting to study not only as symbolic crowds (the incarnation of the People or the Nation) or strategic crowds (the power of expression of a claim), but also because they ‘uncouple’ their members’ experience from the schemes of relations and frameworks of understanding that normally prevail in their social worlds. Publics create ‘liminal’, ‘interstitial’ or ‘transitional’ areas, where forms of experience, interaction, organisation, discourse and identity are created that are not congruent with previously-existing forms.48

We could make the connection with research carried out in the United States on ‘civic practices’, which have shown the weakness or ambivalence of these face-to-face or side-by-side interactions, inspired by the public good. Nina Eliasoph or Paul Lichterman have described ethnographically how publics and their problems grow out of conversations among members of associations, without escaping the paradoxes related to the presentation of private aspects in public speaking, or the intermingling of religious motifs and psychotherapy in ‘personal politics’.49  At the other end of the spectrum, these public gatherings can be institutionalised, and can turn from being spontaneous crowds into what Park called ‘conventional crowds’. Jean-Philippe Heurtin’s survey of the moral architectures of parliamentary theatre or the grammar of interventions at the French National Assembly, as well as Mathieu Berger’s ethno-pragmatic spinning of activities located in local development assemblies in Brussels, have opened up new paths.50  They take into account multiples acts of communication – in addition to arguments, exclamations, protests, interruptions and applause… – and they describe an equal number of bodily, spatial or temporal symbolisms.

Numerous gatherings can therefore constitute publics. However, the study of the ‘emerging properties’ of the public51  cannot be limited to these situations of copresence. One of the recent advances in the sociology of collective movements is linked to the application of network analysis.52  The dynamics of publicisation thus rely on pre-existing ties between people or organisations, and reshape these ties into new configurations. In this perspective, developed for example by Maryjane Osa who has reconstructed the successive waves of inter-organisational networks that paved the way for the liberation of Poland in the 1980s,53  publics are made through games of alliances and oppositions among different blocs of networks. Cooperation and competition schemes between organisations, involving stakes of defining events or combat strategies, are represented by charts that show the degrees of concentration and centralisation of power, or conversely, the balkanisation and dispersion of a protest movement. All sorts of publics can appear, polycentric or hierarchical, organised in bunches of exchange and communication ties, often channelled through mediators – people, organisations or institutions – that hold key positions as representatives, intermediaries and translators, providers of resources, definers of reality and prescribers of norms.

Publics are not only places for open discussion. They maintain a twofold relationship of embeddedness in social and cultural worlds, and wrenching away from these worlds: publics trigger the switch towards new forms of experience. They are also traversed by balances of power and struggles for power. They precipitate into civic and political organisations that propel their denunciations and demands, and can be transformed into war machines. For example, Ann Mische, in her investigation of ‘partisan publics’, followed the twists and turns of the formation of a civic arena in favour of the impeachment of Collor de Mello in Brazil in 1992. At the national scale, the point was to build a coalition that merged theoretically incompatible interest groups around a common objective and to achieve a kind of consensual platform aimed at removing from office the sitting President of Brazil – an organisational ballet that was backed by street demonstrations.54

However, this ethnographic research of public gatherings or of the sociology of mobilisation networks constantly comes up against a difficulty in representing the public. The public cannot be incarnated. The place of power remains empty, unrepresentable and unoccupiable.55  Far from being assignable to an interest group or opinion group, the public is a sovereign without a body. This paradox imposes itself to the investigator attempting to determine its tangible forms. He or she is caught in a balance between the desire to pin down the public as a political subject, and the awareness that there is a gap from what is given to be observed or described. The topography of public life, with the metaphors of space or the sphere, gathering or network, archipelago or arena56  runs the risk of freezing the dynamic of problematisation and publicisation when this dynamic accredits the existence of an actor that would be ‘the public’.

The public as a process of experience, enquiry and experimentation

Another way of approaching the issue of publicity can be borrowed from the sociology of public problems. Rather than seeking to represent a collective that is described as a public, the process this time is to shadow the way in which trying situations are unfurled by problematizing and publicising themselves. Attention is no longer given only to a configuration of actors, confronting one another through public discourses, but to the dynamic of problematisation and publicisation as such.

Here, an initial concept is crucial: experience.57  How is a public experience formed? How does the definition of a public problem open up to the formation of a public memory and a public project? This experience can be taken in an aesthetic sense, in which case, the research programme is that of a phenomenology of affective, perceptive and moral trials through which the public problem takes shape. Publicity is not only discursive or argumentative, and it mobilises more than the faculty of understanding: it is a form of experience that transforms our sensibility to the beings that surround us, making us sense and feel them differently, and far from limiting itself to subjective feelings, it opens from the outset to a sensus communis: that of aesthetic experience.58  Involvement in the common world partly entails sharing affectivity – hence the interest in some enquiries for the forms of indignation that submerge activists and their target audiences in movements for preserving landscapes or against the ‘crimes of bullfighting’.59  The collective activity of publics requires the strength of calling forth testimonials, the visionary power of utopia, the sharing of feelings of justice, and the contagion of the trials of revolt. This activity is rooted in collective passions of more or less magnitude. And these affective, perceptive and moral trials can be found just as much in the uproar of concertation meeting whose audience revolts, as in the handling of a case before a labour tribunal, or in the stories of witnesses recorded by a documentary filmmaker. Publicity proliferates, is disseminated and propagated in all these situations.

Yet the notion of experience can also be understood in the sense of enquiry and experimentation. The members of the public reverse the control that problematic situations have over them by taking charge, formulating hypotheses and subjecting them to tests in order to better know what they are dealing with.60  They evaluate why a particular situation is unacceptable, unjustified or intolerable; they gather the perspectives of all those who are affected or concerned by the consequences of this situation; they trace back its historical origins, elaborate tools to categorise, describe and quantify, or even establish standards of equivalency with other similar situations… This enquiry enables versions to be stabilised that are more or less acceptable to the various parts of the public, and to set the stakes of the conflict and controversial points. It determines the chains of causality that explain how the problematic situation arises, and anticipates the likely or plausible consequences. In the same movement, it attributes types and degrees of moral, legal or political responsibility, and brings forth figures deemed guilt or victimised, defenders or repairers.61

This work in defining, explaining and interpreting has direct consequences: it reshapes the problematic situation through numerous trials of reality and validity that serve up a key for interpretation, while also implying its reshaping. It indicates the ends and objectives to be reached, it organises the means and resources to achieve them, it determines the orders of constraints and opportunities, and it undertakes strategies of alliance and opposition. It sets the magnitude of the scale for intervention, designates the actors authorised and enables them to act. It specifies the nature of disorders, damage or harm, and provides a guideline on how to repair these. And first and foremost, all this work turns the problem into a public problem, in the sense that it is not being handled by the family, clan or market, dealt with via technical means, or stifled by secretive arrangements: public institutions – the state or other actors of remediation accredited by the state – take on the problem. One of the challenges is for the problem to be recognised, explored and resolved by systems and operators of public action.

Both in research inspired by Habermas’s book and in the now sizeable corpus of literature on counterpublics, publics have mainly been examined in terms of strategy for collective action and exchange of rational arguments. The pragmatism of Mead and Dewey invites us to readjust these approaches: pragmatism directs our attention to enquiry and experimentation as driving forces of public action. The operators and devices of publicisation vary depending on the context. The configurations of actors (i.e. the parties present and the audiences they are addressing), the forms of representation (who is speaking and acting, on behalf of whom), the orders of pertinence (i.e. the range of what can be discussed, denounced and demanded) and modes of commitment (how to describe, criticise or make demands), the scenes of intervention, the prevailing languages, the ways of entering into conflict and the ends that are pursued through conflict – these are all arenas. These arenas are distributed on institutional scenes that pre-exist, but where the public problem will cause a certain number of transformations, which are more or less consequential depending on the gravity and the magnitude of the political crisis, the administrative dispute, the parliamentary disagreement, the legal trial, the scientific controversy or the media battle that will ensue

These dynamics of problematisation and publicisation, which intersect and resonate with one another, always break out of the institutional frames that format and regulate them. Thus, the ‘court of opinion’ diffracts into public arenas, which can be tracked for their overlapping at the same time and sequences over time. In every case, lines of conflict set several factions against one another; they attempt to control the definition and management of the public problem and endeavour to justify themselves towards audiences, public opinion and public powers. The public problem fits in the spaces that bring into equivalency political representation or technical, statistical, economic or legal expertise. At the same time, the public problem continues to take root in similar experiences.62  And it is driven by the power of collective mobilisations that assert their autonomy, while calling out to governmental bodies from which they expect actions of recognition, reparation and regeneration.

Towards an ecology of publics. Beyond words: milieus and institutions

Public reason is not only discursive. It is directed towards the material control of actions and their consequences, carried out by communities of enquiry and experimentation.63  It does so in this work of exploration that simultaneously creates experiences, their agents and their environments. It has an ecological anchoring and scope. Driven by aims for what is good, true, right or just, it therefore traces its path to the heart of the arenas that reshape the material equipment, established knowledge, collective habits, professional careers and institutional agencies. It produces an uncoupling and a reshaping of experiences, interests and identities. It creates arborisations of problems that occur in bunches, with their degrees of urgency and importance, and their orders of temporal priority. It gives birth to new devices of public action, equipped with new knowledge, norms and techniques. And in comparison with the games of actors and their confrontations around the specific issues of the various arenas, public reason transforms lifestyles, and leads to the proliferation of new beliefs. Especially, public reason creates new biotopes in which the problematic situations and their harmful consequences are more or less controlled. Here we have one of the meanings of what Dewey called ‘creative democracy’,64  which cannot be dissociated from an ecology of publics. How should this be interpreted?

First of all, a basic thesis, common among the sociologists of the Chicago School in the 1920s: the range of means of transportation and communication sets boundaries on the possibilities of information and association of publics.65 This thesis, at work in Robert E. Park’s sociology of the press,66  is consonant with a material history of techniques, markets and institutions that emphasises publication media, dissemination circuits and the contexts for the reception of printed materials – but also in turn their dependence on publics, in terms of financing and opinion. The discursive and strategic approaches to publicity have paid little attention to this dimension. Yet even more interesting: publics are not only dependent on their environment, they also create it. The creative intelligence of publics is organised and distributed in various milieus, where it is materially rooted, where it draws its resources, in the folds of which settles and which it transforms through its interventions –Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel arrived at this intuition on the bases of different hypotheses.67

In this perspective, statistical calculations, legal reasoning, scientific experiments or journalistic investigations potential targets for action and increase capacity for action. These are operators for self-identification, understanding reality, denouncing wrongs and demanding rights. They act by forging a sense of critical judgment and sketching the path towards possible worlds. Publics disseminate information on scandals or catastrophes,68  make whistle-blowers be heard, support and propagate citizens’ initiatives, make resources and expertise available for experimentation, build up repertories of persuasive arguments, organise collective mobilisation strategies, operate as experience pollination vectors… The dynamic of problematisation and publicisation reshapes the situations, the operations of perception, evaluation and use concerning those situations, and the contexts of experience of the people concerned. This dynamic creates new world horizons.69

To endure, this collective dynamic must lead to a process of institutionalisation of the arena that it brings forth. Then, it is supported by institutions that are the accumulators, condensers and generators of experiences, knowledge and norms. Emerging publics need these multipliers and intensifiers of individual and collective capacities that enable them simultaneously to learn, to coordinate themselves and to imagine in the present while tapping into a past and projecting into the future. Institutions capitalise on their creative intelligence, work to transmit and reproduce their results, set new cultural habits, and incubate new professional careers. In Dewey and Mead’s time, these institutions were schools, universities, theatres and libraries, social centres, political clubs, alternative press outlets or adult education centres;70  today, these institutions include digital platforms, whistle-blowing systems, databases, NGOs, parallel markets or exchange networks.

This is a twofold process. On the one hand, it creates new agencies of control, standardisation and technical or legal regulation. These new agencies set up shared agreements, determine beliefs, identities and interests, and convert the living forces of the public into institutions – by resolving the problematic situation, this process dispossesses the remaining participants in a cause and passes the baton on to experts or elected officials. In turn, it shifts public attention to new focal points, points it to new sources of indignation and new mobilisations against abuses of power, triggers ills that had not been anticipated, and prompts the informed, administered, summoned and consulted publics to leave the place that they had been assigned to. New discussions, denunciations and claims, new deliberations, enquiries and experimentations, new balances of power and conflicts of interest…

This is how ‘public awareness’ is unfurled, caught in the retroactive loops of rumour and exposed to the targeted attacks of propaganda, enlivened by the revelations of whistle-blowers, supported by the work of militants, researchers and reporters, stifled by the discrediting policies of troublemakers and manufacturers of ignorance,71  finding points for support or union around political measures and legal decisions… A history made up of multiple ups and downs, with unexpected, fortunate or tragic consequences, much more complicated than we have learned to decipher it through political theory and the sociology of public action, social problems and collective mobilisations.

Unfold notes and references
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1

Lucian Hölscher, ‘Öffentlichkeit’, in O. Brunner, W. Conze and R. Koselleck (dir.), Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe. Historisches Lexikon zür politisch-sozialen Sprache in Deutschland, vol. 4, Stuttgart: Klett Cotta, 1978: 413-467.

Retour vers la note de texte 1794

2

Jürgen Habermas, L’Espace public. Archéologie de la publicité comme dimension constitutive de la société bourgeoise, Paris: Payot, 1978 (orig. 1962).

Retour vers la note de texte 1797

3

Hannah Arendt, Condition de l’homme moderne, Paris: Calmann-Lévy, 1961 (orig. 1958).

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4

Reinhart Koselleck, Le Règne de la critique, Paris: Éditions de Minuit, 1979 (orig. 1959).

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5

See Peter-Uwe Hohendal, "Recasting the Public Sphere", October, no. 73, 1995: 27-54.

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6

Hans Speier, "Historical Development of Public Opinion", American Journal of Sociology, vol. 55, no. 4, 1950: 376-388.

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7

Stéphane Van Damme, "'Farewell Habermas'? Deux décennies d’études sur l’ancien régime de l’espace public", in P. Boucheron, N. Offenstadt (dir.), L’Espace public au Moyen Âge, Paris: PUF, 2011: 43-62; Massimo Rosprocher, Beyond the Public Sphere. Opinions, Publics, Spaces in Early Modern Europe, Bologna-Berlin: Il Mulino-Duncker & Humblot, 2012.

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8

Antoine Lilti, Le Monde des salons. Sociabilité et mondanité au XVIIIe siècle, Paris: Fayard, 2005.

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9

Maurice Agulhon, Pénitents et francs-maçons de l’ancienne Provence, Paris: Fayard, 1968; and La République au village, Paris: Plon, 1970.

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10

Arlette Farge, Dire et mal dire. L’opinion publique au XVIIIe siècle, Paris: Le Seuil, 1992.

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11

Christian Jouhaud, Alain Viala (dir.), De la publication. Entre Renaissance et Lumières, Paris: Fayard, 2002.

Retour vers la note de texte 1808

12

Patrick Boucheron, Nicolas Offenstadt (dir.), L’Espace public au Moyen Âge. Débats autour de Jürgen Habermas, Paris: PUF, 2011.

Retour vers la note de texte 1809

13

Keith Baker, Roger Chartier, ‘Dialogue sur l’espace public’, Politix, no. 7, 1994: 5-22.

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14

Nancy Fraser, "Rethinking the Public Sphere. A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy", Social Text, n° 25-26, 1990: 56-80.

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15

A notable collection of texts was Craig J. Calhoun (dir.), Habermas and the Public Sphere, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1992. See also Jürgen Habermas, "L’Espace public, trente ans après. Préface à la dix-septième édition allemande de Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit", Quaderni, n° 18, 1992: 161-191 (orig. 1990).

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16

Oskar Negt, Alexander Kluge, Public Sphere and Experience. Toward an Analysis of the Bourgeois and Proletarian Public Sphere, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993 (orig. 1972).

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17

Black Public Sphere Collective (dir.), The Black Public Sphere, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995.

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18

Jean Cohen, Andrew Arato, Civil Society and Political Theory, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1992; or Jürgen Habermas, Droit et démocratie. Entre faits et normes, Paris: Gallimard, 1997 (orig. 1992).

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19

Respectively: James C. Scott, La Domination et les arts de résistance, Paris: Éditions Amsterdam, 2009 (orig. 1990); and Alberto Melucci, Challenging Codes, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

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20

Michael Burawoy, "2004 ASA Presidential Address: For Public Sociology", American Sociological Review, vol. 70, n° 1, 2005: 4-28.

Retour vers la note de texte 1817

21

See Sara M. Evans, Harry C. Boyte, Free Spaces. The Sources of Democratic Change in America, New York: Harper and Row, 1986.

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22

Catherine Squires, "Rethinking the Black Public Sphere. An Alternative Vocabulary for Multiple Public Spheres", Communication Theory, vol. 12, n° 4, 2002: 446-468.

Retour vers la note de texte 1819

23

Daniel Cefaï, Dominique Pasquier (dir.), Les Sens du public. Publics politiques, publics médiatiques, Paris: PUF, 2003.

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24

Dominique Cardon, Fabien Granjon, Médiactivistes, Paris: Presses de Sciences Po, 2010.

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25

For an attempt at topology and typology, see Mustafa Emirbayer and Mimi Sheller, "Publics in History. A Programmatic Statement", Theory and Society, n° 28, 1999: 145-197.

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26

Jeff Weintraub, "The Theory and Politics of the Public/Private Distinction", in J. Weintraub, K. Kushar (dir.), Public and Private in Thought and Practice. Perspectives on a Great Dichotomy, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997: 1-42.

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27

As shown for the Ancien Régime in Dena Goodman, "Public Sphere and Private Life. Toward a Synthesis of Current Historiographical Approaches to the Old Regime", History and Theory, vol. 31, n° 1, 1992: 1-20.

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28

See: Joan Landes, "Introduction", in J. Landes (dir.), Feminism. The Public and the Private, London: Oxford University Press, 1998: 1-20; Viviana Zelizer, "Transactions intimes", Genèses, n° 42, 2001: 121-144.

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29

Respectively: Dorothy Smith, "Household Space and Family Organization", The Pacific Sociological Review, vol. 14, n° 1, 1971: 53-78; Arlie Russell Hochschild, Time Bind. When Work Becomes Home and Home Becomes Work, New York: Holt Paperbacks, 2001.

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30

Philippe Ariès, Georges Duby (dir.) Histoire de la vie privée, Paris: Le Seuil, 1982-1985 (5 vol.); Georges Duby, Michelle Perrot (dir.), Histoire des femmes en Occident, Paris: Perrin, 1991-1992 (5 vol.).

Retour vers la note de texte 1827

31

One example out of a hundred, the women that Mead and Dewey met at Hull House in Chicago: Mary Jo Deegan, Jane Addams and the Men of the Chicago School. 1892-1918, New Brunswick: Transaction Books, 1988.

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32

Rick Fantasia, Cultures of Solidarity. Consciousness, Action, and Contemporary American Workers, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988.

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33

While developing such an approach: Susan Gal, "A Semiotic of the Public/Private Distinction", in J.W. Scott, D. Keates (dir.), Going Public. Feminism and the Shifting Boundaries of the Private Sphere, Urbana-Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2004: 260-277.

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34

Charles Taylor (dir.), Multiculturalism. Examining the Politics of Recognition, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994.

Retour vers la note de texte 1831

35

Augusto Boal, Le Théâtre de l’opprimé, Paris: Maspéro, 1977.

Retour vers la note de texte 1832

36

Lisa Wedeen, Ambiguities of Domination. Politics, Rhetoric, and Symbols in Contemporary Syria, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.

Retour vers la note de texte 1833

37

Hua Linshan, Isabelle Thireau, Les Ruses de la démocratie. Protester en Chine, Paris: Le Seuil, 2010.

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38

Luc Boltanski, Laurent Thévenot, De la justification. Les économies de la grandeur, Paris: Gallimard, 1991.

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39

Dominique Cardon, Jean-Philippe Heurtin, Cyril Lemieux, "Parler en public", Politix, vol. 8, n° 31, 1995: 5-19.

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40

Michèle Lamont, Laurent Thévenot (dir.), Rethinking Comparative Cultural Sociology. Repertoires of Evaluation in France and the United States, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Retour vers la note de texte 1838

41

Joseph Gusfield, La Culture des problèmes publics. Le problème de l’alcool au volant et la production de l’ordre symbolique, Paris: Economica, 2009 (orig. 1981).

Retour vers la note de texte 1839

42

James Bohman, Public Deliberation. Pluralism, Complexity, and Democracy, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1996.

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43

Francis Chateauraynaud, Argumenter dans un champ de forces. Essai de balistique sociologique, Paris: Éditions Petra, 2011.

Retour vers la note de texte 1841

44

John Dewey, Le Public et ses problèmes, Paris: Gallimard, 2010 (orig. 1927); Walter Lippmann, Public Opinion, New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co, 1922 and Le Public fantôme, Paris: Démopolis, 2008 (orig. 1925).

Retour vers la note de texte 1842

45

This shift towards ‘issues’ is perceptible also among those supporting a rhetorical approach: Gerard A. Hauser, Vernacular Voices. The Rhetoric of Publics and Public Spheres, Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1999.

Retour vers la note de texte 1843

46

Erving Goffman, Comment se conduire dans les lieux publics. Notes sur l’organisation sociale des rassemblements, Paris: Economica, 2013 (orig. 1963).

Retour vers la note de texte 1844

47

Isaac Joseph, La Ville sans qualités, Paris: Éditions de l’Aube, 1998.

Retour vers la note de texte 1845

48

Harrison C. White, "Network Switchings and Bayesian Forks. Reconstructing the Social and Behavioral Sciences", Social Research, n° 62, 1995: 1035-1063.

Retour vers la note de texte 1846

49

Nina Eliasoph, L’Évitement du politique, Paris: Economica, 2010 (orig. 1997); Paul Lichterman, The Search for Political Community. American Activists Reinventing Commitment, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Retour vers la note de texte 1847

50

Jean-Philippe Heurtin, L’Espace public parlementaire. Essai sur les raisons du législateur, Paris: PUF, 1999; Mathieu Berger, "Micro-écologie de la résistance. Les appuis sensibles des voix citoyennes", in M. Berger, D. Cefaï, C. Gayet-Viaud (dir.), Du civil au politique. Ethnographies du vivre-ensemble, Brussels: Peter Lang, 2011: 101-130.

Retour vers la note de texte 1848

51

Eiko Ikegami, "A Sociological Theory of Publics. Identity and Culture as Emergent Properties in Networks", Social Research, vol. 67, n° 4, 2000: 989-1029.

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52

Mario Diani and Doug McAdam (dir.), Social Movements and Networks. Relational Approaches to Collective Action, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.

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53

Maryjane Osa, Solidarity and Contention. Networks of Polish Opposition, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003.

Retour vers la note de texte 1851

54

Ann Mische, Partisan Publics. Communication and Contention Across Brazilian Youth Activist Networks, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008.

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55

Claude Lefort, L’Invention démocratique, Paris: Fayard, 1981.

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56

Respectively: Bastien François, Érik Neveu, "Introduction. Pour une sociologie politique des espaces publics contemporains", in B. François, É. Neveu (dir.), Espaces publics mosaïques. Acteurs, arènes et rhétoriques des débats publics contemporains, Rennes: PUR, 1999: 13-60; and Daniel Cefaï, "Qu’est-ce qu’une arène publique? Quelques pistes pour une approche pragmatiste", in D. Cefaï, I. Joseph (dir.), L’Héritage du pragmatisme, La Tour d’Aigues: Éditions de l’Aube, 2002: 51-82.

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57

Daniel Cefaï, Cédric Terzi (dir.), L’Expérience des problèmes publics, Paris: Éditions de l’EHESS, 2012.

Retour vers la note de texte 1855

58

Hannah Arendt, Juger. Sur la philosophie politique de Kant, Paris: Le Seuil, 2003 (orig. 1992).

Retour vers la note de texte 1856

59

Respectively: Danny Trom, "L’engagement esthétique: du trouble à l’enquête visuelle. Une pragmatique du regard sur le paysage", in D. Cefaï, I. Joseph (dir.), L’Héritage du pragmatisme, La Tour d’Aigues: Éditions de l’Aube, 2002; and Christophe Traïni, "Dramaturgie des émotions, traces des sensibilités. Observer et comprendre des manifestations anti-corrida", ethnographiques.org, n° 21.

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60

George Herbert Mead, "The Working Hypothesis in Social Reform", American Journal of Sociology, vol. 5, 1899: 367-371.

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61

Joseph Gusfield, La Culture des problèmes publics. Le problème de l’alcool au volant et la production de l’ordre symbolique, Paris: Economica, 2009 (orig. 1981).

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62

See the research on ‘intermediary publics’ by Alain Cottereau, "La désincorporation des métiers et leur transformation en publics intermédiaires: Lyon et Elbeuf, 1790-1814", in S. L. Kaplan, P. Minard (dir.), La France, malade du corporatisme? XVIIIe-XXe siècles, Paris: Belin, 2004: 97-147 and 479-493; and the research on the ‘politics of closeness’ by Laurent Thévenot, L’Action au pluriel. Sociologie des régimes d’engagement, Paris: La Découverte, 2006.

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63

Roberto Frega, "What Pragmatism Means by Public Reason", Ethics & Politics, vol. XII, n° 1, 2010: 28-51.

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64

John Dewey, Logique. Théorie de l’enquête, Paris: PUF, 1967 (orig. 1938).

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65

Daniel Cefaï, Pourquoi se mobilise-t-on? Théories de l’action collective, Paris: La Découverte, 2007.

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66

Robert E. Park, The Immigrant Press and Its Control, New York: Harper & Brothers, 1922.

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67

Bruno Latour, Peter Weibel (dir.), Making Things Public. Atmospheres of Democracy, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2005.

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68

On this point, see Francis Chateauraynaud, Didier Torny, Les Sombres précurseurs. Une sociologie pragmatique de l’alerte et du risque, Paris: Éditions de l’EHESS, 1999.

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69

In the ecological sense of the term, which surpasses and encompasses the ‘poetic function’ of the public discourse as world-making; Michael Warner, Publics and Counterpublics, New York: Zone Books, 2002.

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See, for example, Kevin Mattson, Creating a Democratic Public. The Struggle for Urban Participatory Democracy During the Progressive Era, University Park, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1998.

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Gerard A. Hauser, Vernacular Voices. The Rhetoric of Publics and Public Spheres, Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1999.

Jean-Philippe Heurtin, L’Espace public parlementaire. Essai sur les raisons du législateur, Paris: PUF, 1999.

Arlie Russell Hochschild, The Time Bind. When Work Becomes Home and Home Becomes Work, New York: Holt Paperbacks, 2001.

Peter-Uwe Hohendal, “Recasting the Public Sphere”, October, n° 73, 1995: 27-54.

Lucian Hölscher, “Öffentlichkeit”, in O. Brunner, W. Conze, R. Koselleck (dir.), Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe. Historisches Lexikon zür politisch-sozialen Sprache in Deutschland, Bd 4, Stuttgart: Klett Cotta, 1978: 413-467.

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Michèle Lamont, Laurent Thévenot (dir.), Rethinking Comparative Cultural Sociology. Repertoires of Evaluation in France and the United States, Cambridge: Cambridge Universiy Press, 2000.

Bruno Latour, Peter Weibel (dir.), Making Things Public. Atmospheres of Democracy, Cambridge: MIT Press, 2005.

Claude Lefort, L’Invention démocratique, Paris: Fayard, 1981.

Paul Lichterman, The Search for Political Community. American Activitsts Reinventing Commitment, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Antoine Lilti, Le Monde des salons. Sociabilité et mondanité au XVIIIe siècle, Paris: Fayard, 2005.

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Public Sphere in Modern Societies

Since the eighteen century, the public-private distinction has structured our societies. While in the private sphere, the individual builds a relationship to himself and develops as unique being, in the public sphere, the different social actors voice their opinions about what should be the general interest and thus contribute to building the notion of the common good.

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Doing Social Sciences

Guided by a few intuitions and armed with their reflexivity, social scientists build their objects, elaborate investigative devices and interpret the field data. Thus, the scientific approach contributes to a better understading of our world.

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From the Ottoman Empire to Contemporary Turkey

Turkey has been, since President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s authoritarian drift, at the heart of the key issues affecting, both the national and international marketplace. The Entries presented here raise the question of the relationship to power in a long-term perspective. They highlight the role played by different social actors such as the State, the local notables, etc., in the process of modernisation as well as the ways of channelling the state domination yesterday and today.