New Modes of Shaping Social Change?
Edited by Regine Paul, Marc Mölders, Alfons Bora, Michael Huber and Peter Münte
Chapter 8: Reciprocal irritations: social media, mass media and the public sphere
In modern society, ‘the public’ is inevitably a mediated sphere as only media can bridge its spatial, temporal and topical diversity. While this media has traditionally been mass media (one-to-many), the arrival of the Internet has popularized meso media (many-to-many). In that context, the mediated public sphere has undergone significant changes. On the one hand, media theorists emphasize the enabling characteristics of digital media, hoping for an egalitarian public sphere and an empowerment of media users. On the other hand, critics discuss the regulatory attributes of social media platforms, which allow the preformatting and sanctioning of communication more efficiently than ever before. This article discusses the generic relationship between social media and mass media from a systems-theoretical point of view. Further, it addresses the question of whether the social web is in fact on the path to democratizing the public sphere.
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