Public spheres are an intrinsic part of the way in which we communicate and more importantly how we access information. It allows us to engage with others and to share opinions on issues facing society. Having a public sphere allows for this process to occur and can act as a mediator on particular issues.
When thinking about public spheres, and more specifically what ones that I am a part of, I realised that my main source of this communication is done through the internet. More specifically, this occurs through social media channels, facilitating an online gateway for me to converse with not only people I know, but those who provide information that I want to access.
Facebook operates as a popular public sphere for communication to occur within society. It facilitates a forum where news outlets can link news stories and where people are able to voice their opinion. The function of being able to ‘like’ and comment on people’s posts allows for discussion to be made on particular issues.
As outlined in a journal by Dominik Batorski, he explains the concept of “online public spheres” (Batorski, D & Illona, G 2015) as “three dimensions of analysis Dahlgren introduced: structural, representation and interactional” (Batorski, D & Illona, G 2015) . Batorski goes on to clarify this claim as he the structure of a public sphere “provides openness and accessibility” (Batorski, D & Illona, G 2015) . The second of Dahlgren’s three public spheres is representation. It “refers to different media outputs in the public sphere”(Batorski, D & Illona, G 2015) .. Lastly Batorski explains Dahlgren’s last dimension as interactional sphere, which allows “an exchange of views and opinions among citizens” (Batorski, D & Illona, G 2015) .
With these dimensions of the public sphere in mind, it shows the complexity that goes into creating a successful public sphere. It is integral, for Facebook to be effective, that they follow these dimensions for communication to be successful amongst their platform.
As Facebook connects its users globally, the issues that are therefore discussed are global. It allows for one of the biggest public spheres to be created, and for communication to be discussed over a vast platform. This subsequently opens up discussion to a plethora of people within society, strengthening conversation between individuals. As Facebook is not discriminatory, unless you are to break their ‘Community Standards’, it is open for anyone to join into discussion.
The role that the media plays in this public sphere is a significant. Facebook has a trending tab on the ‘News Feed’. This breaks ‘trending’ issues into categories; Top Trends, Politics, Science and Technology and Sports. The media is therefore able to distribute its content to millions of people through the online channel. By Facebook having this form communication available, for free, for anyone to access, has significantly improved public spheres and the way in which we discuss things.
This video provided by the Zurich Insurance Group shows how powerful social media has been as a public sphere and also the impacts that our words can have when engaging with it online.
- Dominik, B & Illona, G (2015), ‘Three dimensions of the public sphere on Facebook’, Taylor & Francis Online, 21:3, 356-374,DOI: 1080/1369118X.2017.1281329, viewed 30 March 2018, https://www-tandfonline-com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/doi/full/10.1080/1369118X.2017.1281329?scroll=top&needAccess=true
- Facebook 2018, ‘Community Standards’, Facebook, viewed 30 March 2018, https://www.facebook.com/communitystandards
- Zurich Insurance Group 2012, ‘See how social media is changing the way we communicate’, online video, 6 December, YouTube, viewed 30 March 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wncZPE7NMVI