In the past to present, media has influenced representation of public sphere. Jurgen Habermas (1964) describes in 1964 that each media such as newspapers, magazines, radio and television are kind of public sphere. (Habermas, Lennox and Lennox, 1974). We, as ordinary people begin to debate from media source which somehow help to integrate our own thought against authorities’ opinion or rule. Even more, currently digital media has influenced our public sphere more depth due to participation debate without certain physical place and no matter where we are and when. Ubiquitous and accessibility are the important aspect of the Internet culture, and the culture has changed the way of our attitude toward public sphere.

In short, Success of Public Sphere according to Jurgen’s theory are 

  • – Extent of Access
  • – Degree of autonomy
  • – Absence of hierarchy
  • – Quality of participation
  • – Rule of law

Although Internet participation and accessibility have been not perfectly achieved to all around the world, the digital culture has affected our attitude toward public sphere and has changed the way of consuming the information which is used to be more dominance. For instance, Wikileaks has unveiled secret information which we hardly reached them without anonymous internet because it used to be strongly under censorship or impossible to publish them via traditional media platform which tends to be dominated by authorities side. The information from Wikileaks makes strong discourse in public space which makes the debate as ‘flaming’. Flaming enables to expand the discourse to not only social networking site, but also media news site, and then the discourse becomes more expanding among society. The difference from the 18th or 19th century of public sphere with bourgeois is that if we have access to the digital platform, we all can participate to the discourse as almost equally which is one of the important factor for public sphere of quality of participation.

On the other hand, the internet hasn’t changed public sphere to ideal shape. Papacharissi describes in his article ‘The virtual sphere’ with an example of a software called ‘Decision Maker’ which is for experiment of online debating. In the experiment, most discussion were dominated by a select few (Papacharissi, 2002)) and it is not ideal of absence of hierarchy. We see this kind of hierarchy or dominance in current case too. Influencer such as politician, celebrity and others enable to engage with participate on the internet, especially using social networking site, however they rarely interact with its participate, they tend to use it as one-way style, then participate begin discourse without the person. Although the way of communication between authorities and ordinary people are more visible and interactive than in the past, hierarchy is still exist strongly.

However, either way the new digital sphere is not ideal shape, the digital public space has shaped public sphere positiveley as Wikileaks emerges and people enable to debate own opinion more openly. Public sphere is based on democracy, and democracy relies on free speech, therefore, digital public sphere has helped to expand the democratic style.


Habermas, J., Lennox, S. and Lennox, F. (1974). The Public Sphere: An Encyclopedia Article (1964). New German Critique, (3), p.49.

Papacharissi, Z. (2002). The virtual sphere: The internet as a public sphere. New Media & Society, 4(1), pp.9-27.