The mechanisms of transition from on-line public to the off-line public, as well as from local to global level
The concept of public: from ancient times to era of Web 2.0. Global public communication. "Charlie Hebdo" case. Transition of public from on-line to off-line. Case study: from blog to political party. "M5S Public": features and mechanisms of transition.
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Table of contents
Chapter 1. The concept of public: from ancient times to era of Web 2.0
1.1 Classical theories
1.2 Rethinking Public23
1.3 Web 2.0. and public engagement
Chapter 2. Transition of public: from local to global level. Charlie Hebdo case
2.1 Global public communication
2.2 Chalie Hebdo case-study
2.3 “Charlie Public”: features and mechanisms of transition
Chapter 3. Transition of public from on-line to off-line. Five Star Movement
3.1 Case study. From blog to political party
3.2 “M5S Public”: features and mechanisms of transition
The new reality: the spread of Web 2.0., new state of World Wide Web characterized by more interactive and collaborative approach to content, as well as introduction and expansion of social media, totally transform the features of communication in the modern society - the quality, quantity and speed of information flows, as well as its impact on political and social processes. People have obtained not only the access to the massive volume of information and an opportunity to get news in a timely manner, learn the diversity of viewpoints on particular topic and to discover the issues of importance in a greater depth but also an easier way to express themselves, to coordinate their activity, to summon and participate, for instance, in the sphere of public policy. The Internet brings new forms of collective action or reinforces the existing ones. Reducing the differences between those of high socioeconomic status versus those of low socioeconomic status, men versus women, youth versus adults and many other groups (Delli Carpini & Keeter, 1996) along with removing the distance barriers, Web 2.0. facilitates public interaction and expands civic engagement across diverse populations. Thanks to these features, the public formed in digital space does not stay constant, it has an opportunity to grow, transform and influence other publics. Virtual publics have a potential to evolve into offline publics or fuel already existing ones. In other words, on-line publics might further offline publics, but do not necessarily represent them. On-line publics can have influence over off-line and vice versa. Furthermore, this phenomenon of virtual engagement can start on the local scope, but then disperse globally. The Internet ruining traditional hierarchical structures, gives the voice to different social groups, which can be caught up by global chorus. Besides, the local issue can become a catalyst for global public mobilization. These public transitions are resulting not only from technological features of Internet but also are determined by some social mechanisms which we will try to elicit in the following research called “Emergence of Virtual Publics in Social Media: from on-line to off-line, from local to global participation”.
Research Problem and Goals
Being analyzed in media communications' study and sociology, the topic of virtual public is rather new to political studies. Hence, there is the following research problem - lack of adequate analytical framework for reconstruction of emerging on-line publics and their correlation with off-line ones, as well as the transformation of local virtual public into global. Thus, the research question we want to answer within this research - what are the mechanisms of transition from on-line public that is not coming out in the streets but using social networks, expressing their attitudes, calling for action and organizing it to the off-line public, as well as from local to global level.
The main goal of this work is to figure out the forms of transition from on-line to off-line and from local to global. Obtaining this goal, we will fulfill the following tasks: 1) to analyze the concept of “public”; 2) to examine the process of formation of publics and their types, 3) to check if the concept of public has changed through time; 4) to research the role of the Internet and social media in the public summoning; 5) to study the case of Charlie Hebdo and analyze the expansion of public from local to global level; 6) to scrutinize Charlie public and trace reasons, issues, motives, tools and principles of transformation into global entity; 7) to study the case of Five Star Movement to analyze the interconnection between on-line and off-line publics; 8) to conduct a survey with Five Star Movement supporters to understand the mechanisms of public transition.
The relevance of the research problem can be explained by the fact that though there have already been conducted some researches to prove the possibility of the transformation of public from local to global and from online to offline, none of them haven't explored in details the mechanisms which make this transition possible. Major attention was paid to the features of the Internet itself and interactivity of social media disregarding some other social constructs, which we try to evolve in this research. The paper investigates two cases: Charlie Hebdo and Five Star Movement. The case of Charlie Hebdo was taken because it is astonishing how one case in France, though dramatically painful and resulting on killings was connected both to religion, identity, country history and nations' pride, freedom of speech and freedom of expression, sparked a significant amount of debate and collected noticeable number of people both on the streets and in social networks in France as well as in the global level. Thus, we can examine Charlie Hebdo, from the one hand, as country-based case, from the other, as a global one. The case of Five Star Movement as well presents the example of interconnected on-line and off-line publics. It shows how the discourse created around the blog can influence on-line participation resulting in the formation of real political actor - political party. The Italian case is also interesting from the point of long-lasting formation, organization and mobilization of public through combination of both digital and street activity. It should be noted that we do not compare these cases, we use them as examples to prove the hypothesis of our work.
Methods and Data Sources
To fulfill the research, the next methods are applied: case study, content analysis, analysis of secondary data and such quantitative technique as survey. The data for research is taken from official data sources, social network analysis (Twitter and Facebook) and from the related researches. We also use the data collected through surveys conducted with the activists of Five Star Movement. The survey was managed in Italian language both in printed and on-line form. Among surveyed there were the representatives of Five Star Movement in Forli (Emilia-Romagna, Italy) and the members of Five Star Movement groups on Facebook.
We appeal to several categories of literature: theoretical literature on public and the influence of media on public formation and transition as well as the literature referred to our case studies. It is worth noting, that we use the sources not only in Russian and English, but also in French and Italian languages, that helps us to explore the topic in depth and get the whole solid picture of cases happened in France and Italy.
The concept of publics have been analyzed by different scholars from diverse angles. Our work is mainly guided by Jürgen Habermas' “The Structural Transformation of the public sphere” (1962), cornerstone in the communication studies. The author precisely examined the concept describing the evolution of the public sphere in Europe in XVIII century when separate individuals gathering in coffee-shops and cafes were creating an autonomous sphere of public debate and, thus, together formed public, as well as public sphere's decline in the century after caused by its convergence with private property which led to the destruction of the rational-critical debate. We also base our research on more recent studies as Warner's work “Publics and Counterpublics” (2002), which presents seven main features applicable to any public, Nick Mahony's “Rethinking the Public: Innovations in Research” (2010), which develops the concept of public, discovers its communication and action features in the changing mediated world. Moreover, we follow the steps for analysis of public by Nina Belyaeva offered in her “Public Action and Emerging of Protesting Public” (2012). We also take into account some other influential works discovering the concept of public as those by N. Fraser (1992), J. Dewey (1988), J. Grunig (1984) and G. Hauser (1999). All together, these researches represent a significant analytical framework for studying publics.
Still, these fundamental works are not covering the topic of the Web 2.0. and especially social media as well as their influence on public formation, organization and action. We have analyzed an extensive amount of literature related to the expression, mobilization and participation in the digital age. Among most significant scholars in this field, there is Peter Dahlgern (2005), who argued that political discussion in social media demands to redefine the concepts of public sphere and engagement, emphasizing the role of identity and subjectivity in online communications. One more significant scholar is Clay Shirky (2011), who is one of the first to describe social media potential to become a tool for collective action, for public engagement and producing a change. Clark and Aufderheide in their research “Public Media 2.0: Dynamic, Engaged Publics” (2009) are showing the significant influence of new media on participatory user behaviors. According to some other scholars, there is as well a positive relationship between the usage of the Web.2.0 and social capital (Shah, Kwak&Holbert, 2001), civic engagement (Wellman, 2001) and political participation (Shah, Schmierbach, Hawkins, Espino, & Donovan, 2002). Rachael Gibson and Marta Cantijoch (2013) conceptualize and measure participation at the era of Internet, investigating if online forms do replicate offline or they mix together or exist in separate spheres. The topic of correlation between on-line and off-line started to attract attention of researchers in connection with the Arab revolution and Occupy movements, which represent the cases when social media was extensively used to coordinate and mobilize publics. For instance, there are valuable articles by Donatella della Porta (2005, 2007, 2009), who studies the local, national and transnational protest publics and the contribution of online communication tools for their emergence and development.
As we study the cases of Charlie Hebdo and Five Star Movement, we refer to the relevant researches. The Italian case has been studied a lot and, thus, we found a considerable amount of literature on the general information about Five Star movement, its emergence and development (Turner, 2016; Albertazzi,2016; Natale, 2014; Bordignon& Ceccarini, 2014; Biorcio, 2014; Mosca, 2015; de Rosa, 2013; Tronconi, 2016), its place in Italian and European context (Franzosi & Marone & Eugenio Salvati, 2015; Corbetta & Vignati, 2014; Milani, 2014), its communication tools and digital activity (Tronconi, 2015; de Rosa, 2013, Bentivegna, 2014; Mosca &Lorenzo& Vaccari& Valeriani, 2015) and its leadership (Lanzone, 2012; Miconi, 2014; Cosenza, 2014). It is worth saying, that Lorenzo Mosca, Cristian Vaccari, and Augusto Valeriani (2015) have already carried out the research on the Internet usage by the Five Star Movement and its influence on the organization and mobilization of the party. They figure out how the rhetoric about the Internet compares to reality, how the online voting system works and what are its limitations, as well as what are the participatory repertoires of party's supporters. Based on conducted survey, the scholars show the behavioral patterns of those voting for the Movement; for instance, they are more likely to use Internet for political purposes than voters of other parties. Another noticeable research exploring the Five Star Movement and its supporters was prepared by British think-tank Demos (2013) and based on online survey of Facebook fans of the Movement.
As for Charlie Hebdo case, it is more recent and there are mostly researches on the freedom of expression and terrorism than on public solidarity movement. Thus, there is lack of researches on how the public was formed and took action, still there exist some data analysis on the spread of the solidarity message in time and distance. For instance, Martin Grandjean (2015) has investigated the most used hash-tags during the period when the Charlie Hebdo shooting happened and visualized how they were shared in Twitter. Matthew Zook in the article “Mapping the Twitter Reaction to the Charlie Hedbo Attack”, has shown the distribution of the top hashtags by countries and their reference to usual amount of tweets in the country. Spanish scholars Herrera-Viedma, Bernabé-Moreno, Porcel and Martínez (2015) looked at the languages of the hash-tags and explored how the sense of solidarity brought people with different communication and behavioral patterns together. Jisun An and a group of scholars (2016) as well based their research on the languages of the Twitter hash-tags putting main focus on the proportion in the use of hashtags by users identified as Arab and all others (Non-Arab) in aftermath of terroristic attack.
All in all, studying cases, we take into account what has already been done and use available data, still changing the focus on the mechanisms of public transition and adding our considerations. We would like also to mention that this research is the extended continuation of our previous work, as we have already analyzed the case of Charlie Hebdo before and summarized our findings in the paper “Je suis Charlie” as mass protest: analytical reconstruction of emerging publics in France and in global level” (Kakabadze&Uzoikina, 2015) presented on International Conference on Public Policy in Milan in June-July 2015.
Structure of the Dissertation
The structure of the paper is strictly defined by the tasks we raise in each chapter. The first chapter is devoted to analysis of how the concept of “public” changed through time with the introduction of new media tools and what is public today in the era of web 2.0. We also discuss the potential of social media to summon public and the existing approaches to the transformation of public from on-line to off-line and local to global. The second chapter is dedicated to the analysis of the interdependence between local and global public using the Charlie Hebdo case. First, we investigate in details the case and then proceed to the examination of public and its features, taking into consideration context, discourse, principle circulating message, resources and public spaces. In the third chapter, we examine the transformation of on-line public into off-line studying the case of Five Star Movement. We start from the detailed analysis of case and continue with the research of public applying the results of our survey.
Theoretical Contribution of the Dissertation
This paper represents adequate analytical framework for reconstruction of emerging virtual publics, identifies the mechanisms of public transition from local to global and from online to offline and, thus, fills in the existing gap in public studies. The research contributes to the developing area of studies of new media and public relations, the Internet and society. Virtual publics and their potential have become a topic of interest for many communication and media scholars, as well as it becomes attractive research subject for political scientists due to the ability to mobilize people and even make change. Thus, this work will be useful and challenging for those who are interested in contemporary political studies especially in public communication and this is the theoretical value of the work.
Chapter 1. The concept of public: from ancient times to era of Web 2.0
1.1 Classical theories
The concept of public can not be understood without looking back in the history and analyzing the variety of approaches used for it. Since the times of ancient Greece, political philosophers, for instance, Aristotle (1992) started to distinguish private and public spheres; he emphasized the role of the public forum as the place where the range of social experiences could be rationally articulated and exchanged.
In the 20th century, the political theorist Hannah Arendt as well stresses the role of Greek polis, saying that this is the first model of public sphere where citizens gathered for collective decision-making. Subsequently, according to scholar, the public sphere expends and transforms from purely political entity into the form of common life (1958). For Arendt the essential criteria for the emergence of public is a visual and, moreover, spatial contact, as she speaks about Greek agora. She identifies publicity in terms of the city, its walls. The scholar states that the transformation of the private sphere has caused the decline of public sphere. Overall, Arendt understands the public space as an arena for actions of people interacting directly and united by similar values (1958). Hannah Arendt's theory is usually opposed by the German researcher Jürgen Habermas, who, in contrast is saying that the visual criteria is not important, as public sphere can be described as a virtual community, which has appeared thanks to the growth of printing, and as a result a group of people who read, write and interpret information. He does not speak about decline of the public sphere, instead he is describing a new type of publics appearing during Enlightenment -the public of private individuals discussing social topics appeared in media (Habermas, 1989).
Hence, from the antiquity to the present day, the concept of public has gone through the times of ambiguity and development. Still, the theory and definitions proposed by Jürgen Habermas in the 1960s are considered as classical, normative for other works on public sphere and had a profound impact overall area of public policy studies. Therefore, in the following paragraphs we will analyze more precisely the Habermasian theory, its critics, as well as some other conceptualizations of publics with special attention to the latest works on public in the era of Web 2.0.
Habermas defined public sphere in the encyclopedia article as ”a realm of the social life in which something approaching public opinion can be formed” (Habermas, 1964). The philosopher picks out the following characteristics of the public sphere: it forms public opinion, it is accessible to all citizens, there are no restrictions about matters of general interests (the guarantee of freedom of assembly, freedom of association, freedom to expression and publication of opinions) and debate over the general rules governing relations.
In the work “The structural transformation of the public sphere”, Jürgen Habermas examines the publicity and its change in the XVIII century (1991). Although the idea of differentiation public and private appeared in antiquity, the development of public sphere, according to Habermas, takes place in the XVII century. Jürgen Habermas studying publics goes back into history and looks at the opposition between private and public. The scholar shows that before 18th century there have been representative publicity with lords and kings presenting themselves in front of the audience. In other words, there was no distinction between state and society or between public and private. However, in the 18th century thanks to the economic, social, cultural development public sphere has transformed and influenced the emergence of a new phenomenon - bourgeois public sphere. “The bourgeois public sphere may be conceived above all as the sphere of private people come together as a public; they soon claimed the public sphere regulated from above against the public authorities themselves, to engage them in a debate over the general rules governing relations in the basically privatized but publicly relevant sphere of commodity exchange and social labor” (Habermas, 1991). The success of such public is seen in rational-critical discourse, which constitutes separated individuals in coffee-houses and salons. The bourgeois public sphere, according to Habermas, emerged from the family “literary public sphere”, where art and literature have started to be discussed. The philosopher attracts the attention to the role of discourse in formation of public opinion; he believes that dialogue, debate, discussion effectively compose the public sphere. Communication is central to the formation of public sphere. Habermas understands public sphere as a sort of network for communicating, discussing information and points of view. One of the main elements of public sphere is “ideal speech situation” which is formed while actors not only observe each other but also take other's attitude, ascribe communicative freedom to each other and, finally, share mutual understanding.
Moreover, Habermas identifies institutional criteria for new public sphere to emerge: disregard of status, the existence of the domain of `common concern' as well as inclusivity. Nevertheless, the next century have changed the state of affairs: the public lost its voice due to the domination of corporations in public sphere as well as the diffusion of press and propaganda. “Therewith emerged a new sort of influence, i.e., media power, which, used for purposes of manipulation, once and for all took care of the innocence of the principle of publicity. The public sphere, simultaneously prestructured and dominated by the mass media, developed into an arena infiltrated by power in which, by means of topic selection and topical contributions, a battle is fought not only over influence but over the control of communication flows that affect behavior while their strategic intentions are kept hidden as much as possible” (Habermas,1992). Jürgen Habermas called this shift “refeudalization”, the mutual penetration of state and society. The scholar states that consumption has substituted the rational-critical debate and public opinion is now formed not through discourse but by media engineering.
In the later works, Habermas (1992) claims that there is a significant place of media in the public sphere, that public sphere changes with the change of media, so the development of mass-media, appearance of the Internet have influenced the dynamics of public sphere. It changes with the electronic mass media, with the increasing confluence of information and entertainment, the raising relevance of advertising, the greater centralization in all areas. On the one hand, media, according to Habermas, contributes to the differentiation of public, it helps to expand the public sphere, make it more inclusive and bring together isolated individuals distributed throughout vast geographical areas. However, on the other hand, there is a fear that media can dominate public sphere. The scholar is rather critical to the role of media, saying that it is important but not central because of the dominance of established opinions and asymmetry of media landscape (Habermas, 1992). The theorist, as well, emphasizing the Internet's limited potential does not share the opinion of its crucial role for establishing public sphere. On Annual convention of the International Communication Association 2006, the scholar declared “The Internet has certainly reactivated the grassroots of an egalitarian public of writers and readers. However, computer-mediated communication in the Web can claim unequivocal democratic merits only for a special context: it can undermine the censorship of authoritarian regimes which try to control and repress public opinion. In the context of liberal regimes, the rise of millions of fragmented chat rooms across the world tend instead to lead to the fragmentation of large but politically focused mass audiences into a huge number of isolated issue publics” (Habermas, 2006). Thus, Habermas sees the role of Internet as parasitical, oriented on fracture of mass audiences into detached issue publics.
It is worth noting that Habermas does not distinguish clearly “public sphere” and “public” because sometimes he uses these terms interchangeably. Still, he clarifies that within encompassing public sphere there exist numerous different segmented “public spheres” (publics), which can communicate with each other, “build hermeneutic bridges” from one to another and remain porous (Habermas, 1996). In his later work, Habermas (2006) has redefined public sphere, saying that it is a complicated network that branches out into a variety of coinciding subcultural, local, regional, national and international arenas.
The German philosopher distinguishes “strong” and “weak” publics. Strong publics are organized, formal, oriented on opinion forming and decision-making, whereas weak publics are informal focused on opinion forming. The main characteristics of these weak publics is their pluralism, openness and spontaneity. The separation of strong and weak publics gives the capacity for more inclusive network of “sub-publics” (Habermas, 1992). He also makes a distinction between two states of public sphere: dormant and mobilised. When public sphere is dormant, it is not producing any influence; however, mobilised one can make a change. Different possible tools for mobilisation of public sphere including, for instance, social networks or mobile phones, have been discussed later by subsequent researchers guided by Habermasian theory (Hartmann& Rössler& Höflich, 2008) and which we will analyze more precisely later in this work. The scholar also distinguishes three levels of public sphere: abstract, occasional and episodic. This distinction is based on the frequency of communication, organizational complexity and range (Habermas, 1996). Arranged public is the public of specific event (it can be either concert or party assembly, church meeting or performance in theatre). Episodic publics are formed in coffee houses and salons. Abstract public sphere is composed of isolated individuals from around the world assembled by the means of mass communication. This distinctions proposed by the theorist will be useful for our future analysis and case studies.
Habermas (1996) also examines how issues can move to the core of public sphere from the periphery. The scholar provides three models: inside access model (the issue is raised inside and remains inside without interference of public sphere), mobilization model (the issue is raised by the proponents who mobilize public sphere) and outside initiative model (the issue is brought to inside from the periphery by the initiative of publics). In the last model, mass media plays a significant role, bringing the outside issues to the public agenda. These topics reach the larger public by the means of mass media or through such activities as “sensational actions, mass protests and incessant campaigning” (Habermas, 1996).
All in all, to summarize Habermas' theory, he sees public sphere as a network. Public sphere cannot exist without communication during which the public opinion forms. The role of the media in public sphere, according to scholar, is incontestable; still it should not be exaggerated. Habermas' theory, which has become a cornerstone for the future studies on public sphere has received a great volume of criticism, which we will examine in the following paragraphs.
First of all, there have been long discussions about the notion of public sphere and its unity. For instance, John Kean (2000) wrote that there are various public spheres, which are `differently sized, overlapping, and interconnected'. He distinguishes micro-public spheres operating on the sub-nation-state level, meso-public spheres on the nation-state level and macro-public spheres on global, supranational scope. Nancy Fraser (1990), known for her feminist approach, in her work “Rethinking public sphere” defines publics as `fragmented into a mass of competing interest groups' that are overlapping. She sees exclusions in the Habermasian public sphere and that is why the scholar introduces the concept of subaltern counter publics, which include marginalized social groups excluded from universal public sphere. These numerous counterpublics share and develop their alternative understandings of their interests, identities and needs, circulate counter-discourses and formulate oppositional interpretations (1990). There also exists criticism towards the historical development of public sphere, definition of "common concern” as well as the role of media in public sphere especially the impact of so-called new media. Before proceeding to the analysis of the relation of publics and Internet, examining the recent researches on this topic, we need to take into account that there are some more influential works on publics.
One of the leading American philosophers of the first half of the XX century John Dewey in his work “Public and its problems” defends the role of publics and participatory democratic ideals against Walter Lippmann's critique in “The Phantom Public”. The scholar defines publics as networks or relationships of action assembled to solve problems, the responses to specific issues; he emphasizes that public is not a membership or structure but it is “conjoined action” (Dewey, 1988). As Dewey explains, “indirect, extensive, enduring and serious consequences of conjoint and interacting behavior call a public into existence having a common interest in controlling these consequences” (1988). The scholar attracted attention to the role of communication for formation of publics, saying that public emerges from such acts of discourse as problem solving. He states that public forms not only around political concerns, but also, for instance, around cheap reading and that the new technologies take away people's interest in political affairs. At the same time, the philosopher expects that later development of technologies have a potential to return back public political discussions. All in all, Dewey's point of view was that the publics will always form and act until there is need to address the problems that arise from the indirect consequences of social action.
James Grunig continues Dewey's idea about situation that forms public and he creates the situational theory of publics. According to public relations theorist (Grunig, 1984), it is possible to make a distinction between publics based on their self-organization and methods of dealing with problem: active publics (active to solve problem), aware publics (admit the existence of problem), latent publics (who just have a problem but do not do anything about it) and non-publics (do not have problem). Another representative of public relations theory, Gabriel M. Vasquez develops the ideas of both Dewey and Grunig, defining public as a “collection of individuals that develop a group consciousness around a problematic situation and act to solve the problematic situation" (Vasquez, 1993). The theorist writes that publics discussing common problem create their own language and their narratives, which differentiate them from other publics.
The concept of counterpublics introduced by Fraser is also discussed in the works of Michael Warner “Publics and Counterpublics” (2002). According to Warner, the idea of a public is one of the central in modern life, today it is extended to the new contexts, media and politics, it gets new meaning and thus needs to be precisely examined. The scholar explains the difference between the public (“a kind of social totality”) and a public (“a concrete audience, a crowd witnessing itself in visible space, as with a theatrical public, which possess a sense of totality, bounded by the event or by the shared physical space”) (Warner, 2002). One more sense of public, according to the author, is public which appears only thanks to circulation of texts. The distinction is not so sharp, however, what is important for the author is that both publics are connected to the text. Emphasizing the role of public in modern world, Warner (2002) distinguishes 7 main features of public:
1. A public is self-organized through discourse and exists by virtue of being addressed;
2. A public is a relation among strangers, who are identified primarily through the participation in discourse and cannot be known in advance;
3. The address of public speech is both personal and impersonal (individuals realize that public speech is addressed not exactly to them but to the strangers whom they were. Warner calls it “partial nonidentity with the object of address in public speech” (2002)).
4. A public is formed through mere attention, which means that it possess free and active membership, anyone can join just by expressing attention.
5. A public is the social space formed by the reflexive circulation of discourse, the concatenation of texts through time. In other words, there is a link between the previous discourse and future one, the public exists not in relation to contemporary discourse, but in relation to the whole circulation.
6. Publics act historically according to the temporality of their circulation, therefore all publics are intertextual, even intergeneric. Warner notes that this criteria of temporality can be changed by the Internet and other new media. The author writes: “At the time of this writing, Web discourse has very little of the citational field that would allow us to speak of it as discourse unfolding through time. So although there are exceptions--including the migration of some print serials to electronic format and the successful use of the Web by some social movements--the extent to which developments in technology will be assimilable to the temporal framework of public discourse remains unclear. If the change of infrastructure continues at this pace, and if modes of apprehension change accordingly, the absence of punctual rhythms may make it very difficult to connect localized acts of reading to the modes of agency that prevail within the social imaginary of modernity. It may even be necessary to abandon “circulation” as an analytic category” (Warner, 2002).
7. A public is poetic world making. According to scholar, public discourse declares not only “Let a public exist” but “Let public have this character, speak and see the world in this way” through the effects of idioms, speech genres, temporality, stylistic markers, lexicon, citations and so forth.
As for Warner's distinction between publics and counterpublics, he criticizes Fraser's approach and define counterpublics as dominated groups characterized by an awareness of their status and usage of the poesies means for resistance, transformation, against dominant discourse.
Gerard Hauser moves from Habermasian theory proposing the rhetorical model of the public sphere. A public, according to the scholar, refers to individuals interdependent between each other who hold different views on common issues and try to influence it by means of discourse and public sphere is “the locus of emergence for rhetorically salient meanings” (Hauser, 1999). Publics are formed by active members through vernacular discourse about a specific issue. They exist as processes not as entities in response to issues which attract attention and induce a rhetorical act. In Hauser's theory, publics and public discourse generate shared meaning, which help interaction to take place. The rhetorical public sphere has the following characteristics: 1) it is discourse-based; 2) the critical norms are developed from actual discursive practices; 3) intermediate dialogues as discursive exchanges that form the discourse. Hauser also lists five rhetorical norms, which construct rhetorical public sphere: permeable boundaries (the possibility for individuals outside public to participate in discussions), activity, contextualized language, believable appearance and tolerance (1999). Thus, Hauser comes to the conclusion that to study publics, it is necessary to observe social conversation to understand who is speaking to whom and about what, to analyze the rhetorical exchanges, the narratives of common meaning and historicity.
Nick Mahony as well studies public, defining it as “a pre-existing collectivity that can be identified, addressed and moved to action” (2013). He introduces a very useful and important notion “public summoning”, the process of emergence, and mobilization of public. The scholar examining various public speeches concludes that mediated practices of summoning are “consequential for the sort of public that is been summoned and the role it is invited to perform” (Belyaeva, 2012). Based on this finding, Mahony (2012) distinguishes three types of publics:
· “abject publics”, affected and immobilized, spoken for and on behalf of someone;
· “audience publics”, minimally autonomous, summoned as bearers of limited and pre-decided choices;
· “agentic public”, independent, reflexive, creative, supposed to find an identity, form views and structure.
Russian public policy scholar Nina Belyaeva defines public as “a set of independent, competent and concerned citizens who are able to participate in formulating and implementing policy decisions” (2012). In her work “Protest Public as a Social Actor” (2012) she discusses all mentioned above theories and tries to come out with new conceptual framework on protest publics. Belyaeva attempts to distinguish public types based on their actorness level, she marks out:
· Minimal level of actorness, meaning that public perform in the interests of others;
· Marginal level of actorness, meaning that public has limited resources;
· Full-fledged actorness meaning that public free and with adequate resources (Belyaeva 2011a; Belyaeva 2011b; Belyaeva 2007).
Summarizing previous theories, the scholar states that protest publics can not only aggressively confront but also produce an alternative thinking, transform the societies creating discourse of the “other word possible”. Success of protest public is dependent on its creativity, sustainability and transformative power of vision of the world. As Belyaeva writes, “if the social protest is carried out by truly independent agent public by the fact of their mere discussion of their social problems and sharing their own discourse with the broader public, they are joining in with "political protest". At its first stage such participation can be only virtual, at the next stage of protest public development -it can easily transform to personal participation” (2012). The scholar lists the analytical steps that any researcher need to follow examining protest publics of any actorness level and of any type: 1) reconstruction of the message that influenced public to summon with the special attention to the text or event that provoked the response from public and how public interpreted it; 2) examination of self-organization of public; 3) identification of public spaces where the discourse appeared, was shared and developed as well as examination of multiplicity of the forms and styles, mechanisms of this discourse; 4) assessment of the intensity and temporality of discourse circulation; 5) evaluation of the public's poetic message of the alternative world from the point of its attractiveness and creativity. We will also follow the research steps proposed by Belyaeva and apply it for the case-studies.
Overall, the above-mentioned theories present the multiplicity of approaches to the notion of public, its typology and characteristics. Still, there are some common features, which include the active and inclusive character of public, the role of discourse in public summoning and the message that is addressed, by public. Furthermore, the theorists recognize the influential role of media for public sphere. Still, in the examined works the topic of media and publics, their interconnection is not so much investigated. Thus, we will have a look at the relevant researches on this topic with particular attention to the works on public sphere in the era of globalization and Internet.
1.2 Rethinking Public
In contrast to Habermasian critics of the role of media in public sphere, there are more and more researchers who show that traditional perspectives on the public do not work in changing reality, who see the dominant role of media in formation of public sphere, facilitation public discussion and setting agenda. Spichal was one of the first to speak about the new transformed post-modern public sphere, which is based upon representations in mass media not anymore on composed of network of independent participatory communications channels (1999). The idea of the transformed public sphere and the role of mass media in it was studied by Dahlgren (1991, 2005). Dahlgren defined public sphere as “a constellation of communicative spaces in society that permit the circulation of information, ideas, debates-ideally in an unfettered manner-and also the formation of political will” (2005). The scholar suggested three dimensions of the analysis of public sphere:
1) Structural (arrangement of communicative spaces);
2) Representational (refers to media output and media content: agenda setting, pluralism, fairness);
3) Interactional (refers to the interplay between user and media).
Dahlgren shows that all these dimensions are very important for studying publics in connection with media. Moreover, his input into public theory was also the description of issue publics, which are temporary and dynamic and, according to the scholar, appear over around-lived issues, exist for some time and then finally dissolve. Such issue publics appear thanks to the spread of media. Furthermore, proving that today mass media is dominating the public sphere, Dahlgren introduces new concept of mediated multidimensional public sphere. The concept of mediated public was also developed by Thompson (1995), Livingstone (2007), Zolo (1991). The scholars describe mediated public sphere as open-ended, non-localized and non-dialogical . Thompson (1995) calls this form of society “mediated publicness”, which is despatialized (meaning that there is reorder of time and space and people can interconnect and see more things not being physically at the same location), unidirectional (no dialogue between media and public, however internet changes this situation bringing interactivity), diverse (it unites individuals from completely different backgrounds, social classes with diverse beliefs and values). Shulz (2001) as well presented the theory of a media-constructed public sphere, which one more time shows the fragmentation of public. The plural, diverse and complex character of transforming public sphere is discussed in the works of Keane (1995), who distinguishes three public sub-levels: 1) micro-public sphere (reflects small-scale and bottom up locales of citizens, discussion circles, church communities), 2) meso-public sphere (includes vast amount of individuals all around the world, who are watching, listening or reading. Large media organizations as BBC or Reuters are examples of such spheres); 3) macro-public sphere (the connection of millions and even billions of people involved in disputes at supranational and global level. Such public sphere appear thanks to the growth and spread of Internet).
The ideas of tranformed public sphere and even formation of new one appear more and more in the studies about publics and Internet and especially social networks. Internet is condidered apart from other media due to its technological features, the absence of structure and mediators, data storage and connection of people from different sides of the globe.
Today there even appear theories considering Internet as a global public sphere. For example, Yochai Benkler speaks about emerging networked public sphere, emphasizing that the individuals can transform from passive users, readers and listeners to potential speakers, participants of discussions thanks to the easy possibility of effective communicating in the public sphere offered by Internet (2006). Spanish scholar Manuel Castells in his work “The new public sphere” (1996) is also proving that both media and Internet are public spheres, which present diverse interactive chanels of communication. Dahlberg (2001), in his turn, defines the specific criterias for Internet to be called public sphere: 1) autonomy from state and economy; 2) reflexivity; 3) exchange and critique of criticizable moral-practical validity claims; 4) sincerity; 5) ideal role-taking; 6) inclusion in discourse and equality.
The Internet is called the global system thanks to the number of the interconnected users all over the world. According to the statistics Statista, Number of internet users worldwide from 2005 to 2015 (in millions),retrieved April 10, 2016, from http://www.statista.com/statistics/273018/number-of-internet-users-worldwide/, the number of Internet users has grown rapidly worldwide in last ten years. The following graph shows a substantial increase in the Internet usage from 1024 millions in 2005 to 3174 millions in 2015.
Despite the fact that Internet is not equally spreading in the developed and developing countries due to infrastructure reasons as among 3 billions of global users, 2 are representatives of the developed world, the Internet access is improving bringing the users from developing countries closer to the technology era and providing access to valuable tools for economic development, public expression and engagement.
As Clay Shirky states during his speech on TED conference (2009), today we face a transformed media landscape. There have been four significant media revolutions in the history: the introduction of 1) printing press, 2) telegraph and telephone (conversational media), 3) recorded media as photos, sounds, movies; 4) radio and television. The fifth media revolution implies new media to be “global, social, ubiquitous and cheap”, to combine creation of conversations and creation of groups, supporting many-to-many pattern of communication, to “become the mode of carriage for all other media”, causing migration of previous mediums to the Internet, to give an opportunity for public to be both consumers and producers of information. New media today is less about crafting a message to be consumed by individuals, but it is “more and more often a way of creating an environment for convening and supporting groups”, because “groups that see or hear or watch or listen to something can now gather around and talk to each other as well” (Shirky, 2009).
This approach is shared also by Clark and Aufderheide (2009), who claims that present media becomes people-centric; the individual is not anonymous part of mass anymore. Web 2.0. changes peoples media patterns: choice, conversation, curation, creation and collaboration. For instance, users today discover the news and choose significant issues themselves by the usage of search engines and news feeds, they do not need any more the content to be transferred to them as it was in previous centuries. The users have an opportunity to comment and discuss this news, creating conversations about topics, which appeal to them and, thus, form specific issue publics. Moreover, there is a place for sharing, tagging, ranking and critiquing content, so that the users have a possibility to share their opinion, asses the content. The individuals also get an opportunity to produce the content themselves, to publish photos, texts, audios, videos and so on, either original or remixing existing content. Internet allows users to adopt new roles, for example, to organize online and offline events, to mobilize around some issues. The scholars emphasize that publics are not rigid structures; they appear regularly around issues and are fed by the spread of communication. People “come as participants and leave recognizing themselves as a member of public”, which can take action based on the transformative act of communication (Clark& Aufderheide, 2009).
Thus, Internet effectively playing the role of traditional press, allows people to monitor and destroy the power of mass media as well as to mobilize themselves for actions moving beyond representation into direct participation. In other words, Internet helps, using Mahony's term, to summon publics, to engage them in public activity. Both Dahlgren (2000) and Keane (2005) were sure about Internet's abuility for deliberation, strengthening political interest, public consolidation and future action. Dahlgren stated that “Internet represents a massive boost for the public sphere emerging as a clear factor in promoting participation” (2009). The Internet has radically transformed elements of traditional public mobilization: cost, speed and efficiency of participation, the organization structure from hierarchical to flexible horizontal or hybrid one, need for co-presence and collective content production.
Social media, being “a group of Internet based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0., which allows the creation and exchange of user-generated content” (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010), has become a powerful public tool nowadays. The term “social” in the name of “social media” shows that it implies three forms of sociality: cognition, communication and cooperation (Trottier & Fuchs, 2013), which can be treated as its main characteristics. Convergence of these three models of sociality results in so-called integrated sociality. Social networks, for instance Facebook, have a potential to provoke transition from one stage of sociality to another, as an individual user has an opportunity to produce some media content (cognitive level), publish it for other users to comment (communicative level), and to manipulate it, so that there can emerge new content with multiple authorship (cooperation level) (Fuchs&Trottier, 2013). Moreover, social media can be characterized by integration of social roles, which means the convergence of diverse roles of a human being's life, as in social media individuals can possess private roles (friends, relatives, lovers), civic roles (community members), public roles (activists), systemic roles (citizens, politicians, workers, consumers), which are summarized in one single social profile visible for other users. These constitutive features of social media are shown in the following scheme:
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