Habermas's search for the public sphere

Pauline Johnson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Given powerful globalizing processes under way, the topic of how to conceptualize the modern public sphere is becoming increasingly urgent. Amidst the array of alternatives, the efforts of Jürgen Habermas to attempt to balance out the two main conceptual requirements of this idea, a universalistic construction of the principle of shared interests and a sensitivity to the fact of modern pluralism, might seem a particularly promising option. In order to reconstruct the main motivations of, and to determine a set of criteria of assessment for, Habermas's ongoing attempt to outline a theory of the public sphere adequate to the conditions of the present, the article turns first to a discussion of the seminal formulations of The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. I suggest that the later writings are only partially successful in their attempt to redress some of the main conceptual difficulties that emerge in this early account.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-236
Number of pages22
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Theory
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • common interests
  • Habermas
  • pluralism
  • public sphere


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