You’re scrolling through your facebook feed. Photos of friends and family appear, the latest status from that one girl who posts something new every hour on the hour (we all know that one person, after all), and all of a sudden you come across an article. Perhaps this article details an important issue in today’s world such as one’s personal view on abortion, the battle of the sexes, or Trump’s media paranoia. Whatever issue it is, an emotional response is sparked and you dive in to contribute your own point of view in the debate.
This is what’s known as the ‘Public Sphere.’ A term coined by German sociologist and philosopher Jurgen Habermas in his 1962 book ‘The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere.’ Now I wont go into detail about this book or Habermas himself, but i will merely state that the Public Sphere is a place where society can go to discuss and debate an issue of the day. This idea has been compared to a kind of coffee house where one can go to talk about news or current issues plaguing society. Now, considering one rarely goes to a cafe solely for the purpose of discussing news and issues, the advancement of technology and society itself has taken this ‘Public Sphere’ and incorporated it into the biggest and most influential news platform of modern day society; the internet.
The internet is a magical place with no boundaries or limits and where literally anyone can contribute thought and/or ideas. Is this not a ‘Public Sphere’? When we consider important issues and their debates, a plethora of examples exist. Yet one we were given (my tutorial group, that is) was the debate sparked from the ‘Change Australia Day’ campaign.
The following video emphasises the Indigenous response to Australia Day and what it really means to them.
This campaign has gained ground within a variety of news reports and websites, sparking discussion on the internet and relevant threads between two main parties; those who see Australia Day as ‘Invasion Day,’ when the original inhabitants of this land lost their culture, their history and their way of life (Don’t get me wrong, I am very sympathetic and understanding in regards to this issue), and those who perceive Australia Day merely as a celebration of our multiculturalism and overall, an issue that is quite irrelevant. In fact, as this video states, when asked what Australia Day actually celebrates, “many Australian’s don’t know.” The debate to have the date changed was ultimately rejected by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, and as such, has sparked further debate in and of itself. However, with the world in such a state of turmoil and unrest, surely there are other issues that require our attention.