Today’s topic is the public sphere, no-no not an actual sphere: rather an arena in which citizens may debate and discuss common societal concerns- as defined by Mr Jurgen Habermas in his book the Public Sphere.
Well naturally as we modernise so to do our debates; and although we may consider ourselves to be a tolerant society and actively striving for equality- the public sphere is still a prominent module. So where does the public sphere operate? Just about everywhere! It is easy to find the most recent public concern buy flipping on your TV or radio, turning the page in your magazine or newspaper; in fact you can’t even escape the public sphere when having a conversation. I consider the greatest reflection of our society to be the content shown within it; this is evident when exploring television shows such as:
* Modern Family
* Can of Worms
* Current reality TV
Modern Family abolishes what may be defined as the traditional family unit (mummy, daddy and two or three little babies) and introduces social change, portraying many different characteristics of today’s family:
* Step Families
* Age difference
* Gay relationships
In conjunction to Modern Family, Can of Worms may be considered the epitome of the public sphere. Can of Worms is a talk show dedicated to discussing aspects of society that are present, common, every day concerns for the average community member. The show brings forth topics such as:
* Social values
* Political values
* Personal values
In addition to Modern family and Can of Worms presenting the changing nature of society, current reality TV shows are an opportunity to view and express personal values that often address shifting societal values. We have can observe this is in programs such as Big Brother, the Hills, Australia’s Next Top Model, the Biggest Loser etc.
I consider Ellen DeGeneres and her talk show to be a great example of debate in the mediated sphere as well as a positive influence upon it. The talk show presents homosexuality, notions of acceptance and equality- alongside these aspects the show also embodies social values such as current events, holidays, celebrities, occasionally news and so on.
The show can be considered creditable in identifying societal change. A consistent discussion brought about by Ellen is equality to gay relationships; homosexuality is a frequently debated, familiar topic within the public sphere. While being gay is a common and a mostly accepted characteristic public concern persists over amending the Marriage Act to include the union between homosexual couples.
For more information about homosexuality in the mediated public sphere click on these links:
Homosexuality around the world: http://www.datehookup.com/content-homosexual-rights-around-the-world.htm; http://worldfocus.org/blog/tag/homosexuality-around-the-world/
Gay Rights a world of inequality: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/sep/13/gay-rights-world-of-inequality
Homosexuality on TV: http://www.harvardindependent.com/2012/09/homosexuality-on-tv-not-there-yet/; http://iml.jou.ufl.edu/projects/Spring04/Douglas/homosexuality%20on%20prime%20time%20television/root/index%20page/
In conclusion, as I have previously mentioned we are an evolving society that presents large amounts of power to the media that we subscribe to. The beauty in this is that through that media we are able to express and debate our opinions about what society should value; and while we are not all equal in terms of marriage, relationships and acceptance, with the publicity and exposure homosexuality has gained I believe it’ll get there.