Rethinking the public/virtual sphere: The problem with participation


Goldberg, G. (2011). “Rethinking the public/virtual sphere: The problem with participation”. In New Media & Society, 13 (5), 739–754. London: SAGE Publications.

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Responding to the long-standing interest of new media scholars in online participation as a mechanism for political and cultural democracy and empowerment, this article elaborates a critique of online participation. It examines the ways in which online participation has been economized at a fundamental level – the level at which data is transmitted – and argues that this economization draws into question the viability of a public/virtual sphere paradigm. In the process, it implicates public/virtual sphere scholarship in the production of a mode of power – vital or productive power – which has been under-examined in new media scholarship.