This major work retraces the emergence and development of the Bourgeois public sphere - that is, a sphere which was distinct from the state and in which citizens could discuss issues of general interest. In analysing the historical transformations of this sphere, Habermas recovers a concept which is of crucial significance for current debates in social and political theory. Habermas focuses on the liberal notion of the bourgeois public sphere as it emerged in Europe in the early modern period. He examines both the writings of political theorists, including Marx, Mill and de Tocqueville, and the specific institutions and social forms in which the public sphere was realized. This brilliant and influential work has been widely recognized for many years as a classic of contemporary social and political thought, of interest to students and scholars throughout the social sciences and humanities.
Why is this such a vital study? Its significance rests in itsanalysis of one of the central notions on which both our politicallife and our political theories rest: public opinion .Presidential candidates worry about it, the press talks about it,political scientists try to measure it, but Habermas is one of thefew people to have actually sat down and tried to think about it, to ask what it means to have an opinion that is notprivate, not idiosyncratic, but rather public . James Schmidt, Boston University
Jurgen Habermas is the author of numerous works including The New Conservatism (Polity 1990), The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity (Polity 1991), and Postmetaphysical Thinking (Polity 1992).