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date: 17 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article introduces the concept of the “aesthetic public sphere” as a way for cultural sociologists to understand the civic impact of entertainment media. The idea of the aesthetic public sphere draws on Jürgen Habermas’s discussion of the literary public sphere from a more cultural and historically even-handed perspective. In his Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, Habermas noted the important connection between entertainment media and the development of democratic communication norms. This article examines three components of the aesthetic public sphere. First, aesthetic publics work at the level of the social imaginary. Second, aesthetic publics provide a space for commentary about important matters of common concern. Third, aesthetic publics encourage debates about cultural policy in a way that increases the importance of cultural citizenship within civil society. The article concludes by considering how cultural globalization reinforces the importance of the aesthetic public sphere.

Keywords: aesthetic public sphere, entertainment media, Jürgen Habermas, social imaginary, cultural policy, cultural citizenship, civil society, cultural globalization

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