From Public Sphere to Performative Publics. Developing Media Practice as an Analytic Model
Lünenborg, Margreth – 2018
This chapter reviews some of the criticisms of the universal idea of a public sphere. Drawing on recent scholarship in social movement studies, it shows how the dynamics of the "personalisation of contentious politics" and the idea of "networked publics" stand for a drastic shift in the way publics are nowadays created. The chapter outlines basic contours of practice theory and proposes that the performativity of practice itself is integral to understanding public articulations. It then outlines how media practice can be developed into an analytic model that allows understanding different levels of agency in relation to the formation of publics. The chapter argues that media practice can account for the emergence of new actors in public discourse, as well as the adaptation of established actors to new dynamics of communication. Although individual practices are invariably prone to variance across different sets of actors, we underline that structural patterns of practice offer a novel perspective on the emergence of publics.