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Structural functional differences between mass media and internet, and the resultant differences between mass media based hegemonic public sphere and internet based discursive public sphere

Author: 
Attikuppam Umapathi
Subject Area: 
Social Sciences and Humanities
Abstract: 

Recent advancements in ICTs, especially internet, has been transfiguring the nature and the domain of the public sphere significantly. Though the idea of internet as a public sphere is challenged with many critics not disposed to accept it as a public sphere, the remarkable impact that the internet has been able to bring on the nature of public sphere, or at least it’s role in impelling the contents that are discussed in the public sphere makes us to question whether the stand of these critics in dismissing the internet as public sphere is justifiable or not. Any advancements in communication, interaction related platforms are bound to influence the way public interact, and the interaction modes obviously influence all public sphere related outcomes. The fact that internet is a better mode of communication than any other mode of communication that we have experienced so far, is an indisputable fact. The question is whether internet related platforms, or interactions thorough these platforms can be called as rational-critical debate that is expected to take place in a public sphere. As a matter of fact internet is a world of many things, and acting as a public sphere, or acting as a platform to accommodate rational-critical debate is one among the many aspects that the internet does. Nonetheless, the transference of audience from mass media to internet for each and every aspect indicates that the internet has swamped, and replaced mass media as a primary source of public sphere. Access to internet is becoming relatively cheaper vis-à-vis mass media. Besides being economical, the internet also provides speed in communication, and the best dimension of internet as a mode of communication is, it acts as a two way mode of communication where the parties involved can interact with each other in a democratic manner i.e., without any hierarchy in the direction of flow of information. Information can originate at any end, and can reach to indefinite number of people. A mode of communication with these dimensions is destined to influence the nature of public sphere profoundly. This papers attempts to track down the structural transformation of the public sphere in sync with the changes in communication methods, by specifically looking at the structural differences between mass media and internet, and looks at how discursive the internet derived public sphere is vis-à-vis mass media based public sphere.

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