Revising Public Space through Sociology: A Look at Bernhard Peters’s Theory

By Isabelle Aubert

Introduced in 1962 by Jürgen Habermas, the notion of public sphere contributed to the development of research on deliberative democracy. Over time, it has drawn so many criticisms that it has declined and is no longer pivotal in that kind of academic literature. This essay focuses on Bernhard Peters’s investigations into the possible meaning of the public sphere today, both in normative theory and empirical sociology. It describes the role of the concept of public sphere in political theory and questions the impact of its empirical aspects (i.e., is there a transnational public sphere?). It thus shows how Peters opens the way to a reflection on democracy which gives a leading position to a critical approach to the public sphere.


  • public spheres
  • communicational power
  • democracy
  • transparency
  • competency
  • asymmetry
  • discussion
  • transnationalization
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