The Long Revolution and the Future of Publics
The forthcoming Summer Institute will discuss the opportunities and challenges to the idea of “publics” brought forth by new communication and media technologies.
It builds on Raymond Williams’ idea of a “long revolution” of culture in the course of economic and political changes and expands it to the digitalization of “public spheres”, in which these interactions become visible. Using online resources, such as social network sites, citizens can participate in public discourse and make their voices heard on political issues, thus making the public sphere more diverse. Easily accessible media technologies, such as weblogs and podcasts, enable and empower their users to produce media content, which might subvert hegemonic ideas and challenge asymmetrical power relations.
Nevertheless, changes in communication technologies also bear challenges to public spheres: For example, in the course of the fragmentation of the public sphere and the segmentation of its audiences, the practices and norms of public communication become particularistic as well.
Online, especially through social network sites, non-democratic ideologies equally get the opportunity to reach a wider audience through malevolent hackers or automated bots. Questions of public control and media regulation arise, as hate speech and fake news become part of the digital vernacular language.