Volume 6, Issue 2, 2014
The Public Sphere and Other Patterns of Public Legitimization
This article aims at clarifying one critical function of the public sphere, namely the conditions which enable a public to distinguish the difference between trustworthy and manipulative public legitimization. It also seeks to answer the question of whether such conditions can be realized in pre-modern or alternatively modern social settings. The tendency in some recent historical and anthropological publications to regard all historical patterns of public legitimization as public spheres is criticized for ignoring the latter’s critical function. A broader understanding of this function is offered which can be applied also to “non-Western” cultural environments.