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The Ongoing Structural Transformations of the Digital Public Sphere(s): The Role of Journalism

Dagoula, Chrysi (2017) The Ongoing Structural Transformations of the Digital Public Sphere(s): The Role of Journalism. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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This thesis explores the current ongoing structural transformations of the (digital) public sphere(s) on Twitter, given that the technological advancements pose questions about the value, the sufficiency and the sustainability of Habermas’ theory in a digital epoch. The theoretical framework is developed around the concepts of the public sphere, democracy and journalism, which are examined diachronically and through the lens of hybridity. It focuses on their systemic relationship, which is defined by their common ground, participation. By building a parallel between the Habermasian theory and Athenian Democracy, and by examining the evolving role of the public, the study focuses specifically on the role of media actors in political dialogue during elections. The deep interrelation of the concepts guided the thesis’ rationale, which regards the public sphere through a different prism, that of its duality: as a concept with a normative and a pragmatic side. The structural transformations of the (digital) public sphere(s) and its formation on Twitter are affected by two factors: the role of the press within the platform, and the current political and financial setting. As such, the empirical research looks into the General Elections of 2015 in the United Kingdom, and contributes to the development of appropriate empirical research methodologies, so as to shed light on the use of this popular platform by traditional media, net-native media and journalists, as well as to audiences’ level of responsiveness. The empirical research consists of Twitter research on media actors’ accounts and on electoral hashtags; and of interviews with journalists. The thesis concludes with an internal conversation between the normative and the pragmatic models: the first defines how the pragmatic public sphere on Twitter is mapped, whereas the latter is the foundation for the thesis’ proposal for the re-conceptualization of the normative model in the digital epoch.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Public Sphere, Habermas, Social Media, Twitter, Democracy, Journalism
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > Journalism (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.727283
Depositing User: Dr Chrysi Dagoula
Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2017 11:53
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2018 09:47
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/18499

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