Call for Papers:  Media and the Public Sphere, Richard Butsch, editor

I am seeking contributors for a volume tentatively entitled Media and
the Public Sphere, which will explore how movies, radio, television and
internet, or specific media genre do or do not constitute a public
sphere, and how audiences do or do not respond to these as public sphere.

Since Habermas' classic study of the public sphere was translated into
English in the early 1990s, it has revived the concept of public and
stimulated scholarship concerning political participation and democracy
across a broad spectrum of disciplines. During the same time, there has
been a remarkable growth in scholarship on media industry, audiences and
history. Given that news media traditionally have been associated with
the public sphere, it is not surprising that these two developments
would come together. Over the past two to three years there has emerged
a broadening range of studies involving media and the public sphere.
This work is growing rapidly and would benefit from a presentation that
allows for comparisons across media and genres, and across approaches
and issues.

It seems timely to bring this work together in one book in order to
identify common threads and differences in scholarship on media and the
public sphere. I am open to authors taking any positions, pro and con
concerning the existence or significance of public spheres, so that as a
whole the book constitutes not simply separate studies on a shared topic
but a "conversation" among the studies that raises questions of
substance and approach for future research.

Topics that would be valuable for the book include but are not limited
to contemporary or historical approaches to:

How have legislative/regulatory environments sustained or undermined
media's role as public sphere? Do public media such as BBC fill this

Do documentaries or dramatic films (e.g. "Wag the Dog") constitute a
public sphere discourse?

Are radio or television talk shows a public sphere? Is community radio a
viable alternative public sphere?

Was television in the broadcast network era a public sphere? Do
televisions in public spaces create a public sphere?

Is the internet a public sphere? Are the internet and globalization
creating an international public sphere?

Do audiences for any media respond as consumers in a marketplace or
citizens in a public sphere?

A new and innovative analysis of the history of newspapers as the
prototypical public sphere medium might provide a background for the rest.

Send your proposal or inquiries to [log in to unmask]
<mailto:[log in to unmask]>.

Richard Butsch,
author of The Making of American Audiences and editor of For Fun and

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