Communication Sciences (Phd student) Universidade Nova de Lisboa Portugal,
Public Sphere, Public Opinion and Public stand between the most influential concepts that modernity has offered to contemporary societies. Although the critical-rational public sphere model of 18th century has suffered a process of decline with the transformation of a culture-debating to a culture-consuming society, the Public maintains a central place in contemporary discourses.
This paper considers Public?s contemporary relevance questioning if it is still possible to see in it its bourgeois political function. Is there really a Public that debates civil society?s issues in a critical way? When we mention the Public are we referring to an audience? How the Public may function in a rational way when public sphere has been mediatised and media work in a more pathetic (pathos) than ethical basis? We may draw the conclusion that the Public is dead.
We analyse todays Public searching for a third-way of viewing it: neither the Public is just a rational-critical agency of public sphere nor has it vanished. We argue the concept has experienced a mutation and it has to be seen in accordance to contemporary publicness.
The Public may be regarded as the result of individuals joined together sharing common emotions in publicity. Seen within a publicness theory, the Public is a set of subjectivities who look publicly for a feeling of belonging. It has the power to build communities and provide collective identities. So, in this perspective, the Public still exists although in a different manner: it performs a social narrative able to give individuals a sense of security. Publics are public communities disseminated through society carried out in new processes of communication that use media to obtain a worldwide relevance.