Monday, March 7, 2011

Democratic Space

I have been thinking a lot recently about the shrinking of public spaces/places. Cohen's discussion in chapter 6 concerning the commercialization, privatization, and feminization of public spaces highlighted the restrictions of civil liberties in our consumer's republic. Referencing Habermas, Cohen notes "the commercializing, privatizing, and segmenting of physical gathering places [...] has made more precarious the shared public sphere upon which democracy depends" (289). I think one of the more prevalent arguments for the embrace of networked communication is that it creates digital spaces for people to protest and express themselves without being arrested for trespassing on private property. I wonder if we might discuss however what is gained/lost by such an approach. Does networked communication replace the physical public space? Or, does it rather accentuate public spaces by creating technological avenues for prior organization and attention? Do we consider chat rooms and facebook places of assembly in a political sense?

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