In 1962, a German sociologist Jürgen Habermas invented the term ‘public sphere’, by which he described literate bourgeois society (and later the society as a whole) that is capable of acting as a critical counterweight to the state. As a theorist, Habermas argued that public sphere was at its most developed state in Europe in XVIII century, and that since then we observe its backtrack from the participation in public life. It meant the break in the connection between family and household life from one side, and the world of politics – on the other.
In my opinion, the modern world has its own developed version of ‘public sphere’ that is the sphere of public life, in which different classes of society discuss the matters of public interest, which leads to the formation of informed public opinion. It is the media space for communication between people. There is a number of institutions connected to the development of a public sphere – state, newspapers, journals, TV, radio, public space – as well as culture that is favorable for public life.
Public sphere is an essential condition of the existence of civil society. Without the public sphere, civil society lacks the participation of its members in the political decision-making process. Within the Internet, the public sphere has changed its vector from elitism to masses, thus it does not exclude no one from the discussion. One more important feature of a public sphere is its ability to act as a medium of social integration, form of social solidarity and arena for discussion of possible social actions. Additionally, in my opinion, one of the difficulties that one may encounter when analyzing public sphere is to find the right way to delineate the scope of its competence, that is to separate the public sphere from the private one.
In the context of present world, it is important to consider the role of the Internet-based media and communication in the development of public sphere. Within the framework of media space, the public sphere is a conditionally allocated virtual community of public discourse, which is a result of collective reflection on recent and socially significant events of so-called democratic society. The formation of a new form of public sphere is happening due to the development and use of internet technologies and due to the features the Internet provides: decentralization, independent network structure, lack of state control and unprecedented ease of becoming an active actor. Public forums, blogs, internet-communities, social networks – all these platforms provide the possibility of communication and discussion, which are the key functions of public sphere. The members of the society often change their relations to the government, and tend to start to be critical of the actions of the ruling circles. Thus, the new communication regime of a modern society within the public sphere becomes a strong factor that changes the way people treat the government and vice versa, and it builds a new form of their communication, resulting in more open and democratic world.