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Private Sphere3

Talk based on upcoming book:
A Private Sphere: Democracy in a Digital Age, by Zizi Papacharissi, Polity Press 2010.

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Private Sphere3

  1. 1. Democracy in a Digital Age Zizi Papacharissi, PhD Professor and Head Communication, U of Illinois-Chicago
  2. 2. <ul><li>The mythology of the new </li></ul><ul><li>Technology and space </li></ul><ul><li>Public and private </li></ul><ul><li>fantasies of control and autonomy </li></ul>A control is not a discipline. In making highways, for example, you don’t enclose people but instead multiply the means of control. I am not saying that this is the highway’s exclusive purpose, but that people can drive infinitely and ‘freely’ without being confined yet while still being perfectly controlled. This is our future. (Deleuze, 1998, p. 18)
  3. 3. <ul><li>Nostalgia for past forms of civic engagement </li></ul><ul><li>Limitations to civic involvement presented by the representative democracy model </li></ul><ul><li>Aggregation of public opinion </li></ul><ul><li>Declining civic participation through formal channels of political involvement </li></ul><ul><li>A cynical public </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>Developing across spaces publicly private and privately public </li></ul><ul><li>Resting upon convergent media, spaces and practices </li></ul><ul><li>Suggesting newer modes of citizenship </li></ul><ul><li>Reforming metaphors of the past </li></ul><ul><li>A private sphere </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>Private expressions of citizenship </li></ul><ul><li>Retrofitting old habits into new media </li></ul><ul><li>Hybrid spaces and privée sociality </li></ul><ul><li>Retreating to private space to go public </li></ul><ul><li>Private and self-enclosed individuals, mobile privatization </li></ul><ul><li>Personal fantasies of autonomy, expression and control </li></ul><ul><li>Alone, connected </li></ul>
  6. 7. <ul><li>Historically sensitive </li></ul><ul><li>Expresses economic, social, cultural, political balances and imbalances of power </li></ul><ul><li>Examples: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Public life, private life and democracy in Ancient Greece </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Gender relations and the domestic sphere </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Religion and public vs. private </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Denotes visibility and collectivity </li></ul>
  7. 8. <ul><li>At present: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The privatization of public space and the return to the home as political space </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Privacy as commodity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A trichotomy: The social </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>A convergence of public and private, augmented by the affordances of technologies of convergence </li></ul></ul></ul>
  8. 9. <ul><li>Convergence: Technological/industrial/cultural/social confluence in how media circulate within our culture. Multiple media systems co-exist, content flows across platforms, audiences migrate toward newer entertainment experiences, multiple media industries cross-finance and cross-promote. A process and not a fixed relationship (Jenkins, 2006) </li></ul><ul><li>Remixed and remixable content (Manovich, 2005) </li></ul><ul><li>Not just a technological, but possessing a cultural logic of its own, blurring the lines between production and consumption , between making media and using media , and between active or passive spectatorship of mediated culture” (Deuze, 2007, p. 74). </li></ul><ul><li>Not a defining characteristic of all technology </li></ul><ul><li>Not a characteristic exclusive to technology </li></ul>
  9. 10. <ul><li>No sense of place </li></ul><ul><li>Doubled-up space </li></ul><ul><li>Multiplied space </li></ul><ul><li>Supersurfaces </li></ul>
  10. 11. <ul><li>Convergence of technologies </li></ul><ul><li>Convergence of spaces </li></ul><ul><li>Convergence of practices </li></ul><ul><li>Political activity migrates to architectures that are technologically sustained, upon the surface of pre-existing civic structures </li></ul><ul><li>What happens to citizenship? </li></ul>
  11. 12. <ul><li>Nostalgia for the past </li></ul><ul><li>What is good citizenship? </li></ul><ul><li>Contemporary citizenship modalities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The citizen consumer </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cultural citizenship </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The cosmopolite </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The monitorial citizen </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The digital citizen </li></ul></ul><ul><li>A liquid citizen: A combined model of flexible citizenship </li></ul>
  12. 14. <ul><li>Public space, not Public Sphere </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Access </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reciprocity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Commercialization </li></ul></ul><ul><li>On the importance of public space for change </li></ul>‘ Change life!’ ‘Change society!’ These precepts mean nothing without the production of an appropriate space . . . new social relationships call for a new space, and vice versa. – Lefebvre (1974/1991, p. 59)
  13. 15. <ul><li>Reflective of a Private Sphere at Work </li></ul><ul><li>1. The networked self and the culture of remote connectivity </li></ul><ul><li>2. A New Narcissism: Blogging </li></ul><ul><li>3. The Rebirth of Satire and Subversion: YouTube </li></ul><ul><li>4. Social Media News Aggregators and the Plurality of Collaborative Filtering </li></ul><ul><li>5. The Agonistic Pluralism of Online Activism </li></ul>
  14. 16. <ul><li>Architectures of distance and proximity enable private spheres of sociality </li></ul><ul><li>Social network sites and the plurality of activities they afford: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Multiply potential audiences </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sustain familiarity of private and enable reach of public </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Host self-performances on hybrid spaces that serve the values of autonomy, expression, control </li></ul></ul>
  15. 17. <ul><li>The self-reflective activity of an autonomous society depends essentially upon the self-reflective activity of the humans who form that society” (Castoriadis, 2007 (trans.) p. 151). </li></ul><ul><li>Narcissism, in moderation </li></ul><ul><li>Atomization of political expression and pluralization of political agenda </li></ul><ul><li>Deinstitutionalize political power, make democracy more porous, blogging an act of dissent, a political act, not journalism </li></ul>
  16. 18. <ul><li>Blogging provides the pulpit, YouTube the irreverence and humor democracy needs </li></ul><ul><li>Expands the spectrum of political activity </li></ul><ul><li>Enables direct communication within representative system </li></ul>
  17. 19. <ul><li>Traditional habits of passive spectatorship attain political weight </li></ul><ul><li>The act of reading (returns as) a political act </li></ul><ul><li>The wisdom of the collaborative hive mind </li></ul>
  18. 20. <ul><li>Fluidly exercized activism </li></ul><ul><li>Citizen chooses from activism menu, to engage in activities of variable duration, involvement, impact </li></ul><ul><li>Micro-agonism at work- is that bad? </li></ul>
  19. 21. <ul><li>Autonomy, expression, control </li></ul><ul><li>Defined by a plasticity of public and private boundaries </li></ul><ul><li>Political and other expression emanates within this civic, privée, and networked cocoon </li></ul><ul><li>Emphasis on connection over struggle </li></ul><ul><li>All develop within private terrains </li></ul><ul><li>The private sphere, as metaphor, describes and explains the mechanisms for civic connections in contemporary democracies. Its value is descriptive and explanatory, but not prescriptive. Far from a recipe for democracy, the private sphere is an attempt at new space and a new sociality. </li></ul>

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Talk based on upcoming book: A Private Sphere: Democracy in a Digital Age, by Zizi Papacharissi, Polity Press 2010.


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