Deliberation in Dysfunctional Democracies

By: Michael Hofmann  

Donald Trump skillfully exploits the growing inability of all commercial media to provide American citizens with the investigative reporting and news analyses necessary to conduct the public discourse of an informed electorate in times of military, economic, and political crises. Against the background of the insufficient information used to justify America's entrance into World War I, Walter Lippmann's modern classic "Public Opinion" (1922) offered the first systematic analysis of the structural weaknesses inherent in the role that democratic theory ascribed to the news media regarding the daily gathering, evaluating, and contextualizing of increasingly complex domestic and foreign intelligence. John Dewey's famous rejoinder "The Public and Its Problems" (1927) started a debate in public philosophy whose relevance has grown exponentially due to the tragic consequences of the Vietnam and Iraq Wars. Significantly, the Lippmann/Dewey debate is not included in Juergen Habermas's global academic best seller "The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere" (1962/1989). Only recently did the eminent Habermas scholars Richard J. Bernstein and Craig Calhoun address this omission. This paper presentation will continue where Calhoun's Tanner Lecture "The Problematic Public: Revisiting Dewey, Arendt, and Habermas" (2013) left off.

"Political Communication", " Public Sphere Theory", " Media and Democracy"
2018 Special Focus: Alt-Media - The Shifting Tide of Political Communication
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Dr. Michael Hofmann

-, -, Florida Atlantic University, United States
Florida, United States

Educated at the Free University of Berlin in Communication, Sociology, and American Studies (M.A. "With Distinction" / Ph.D. "summa cum laude"), I have worked in public broadcasting, media research organizations, and universities. I joined Florida Atlantic University in the planning stage of its Public Intellectuals Ph.D. program in the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters and introduced Habermas's Public Sphere Theory into its curriculum. Currently, I am the curriculum coordinator for the Multimedia Studies: Multimedia Journalism program in FAU's School of Communication and Multimedia Studies. I have published in the fields of communication and media theory, public and commercial broadcasting research, and international media and journalism studies. My latest single-authored book "Habermas's Public Sphere: A Critique" was co-published in May 2017 by Rowman & Littlefield / Fairleigh Dickinson University Press (286 pages). It is distributed by Rowman & Littlefield ( / 800-462-6420). Review copies can be received by contacting My latest journal article titled "Habermas's Public Sphere versus Trump's Twittersphere: Citizenship in a World of Social Media" was published online in September 2018 in the Journal of Communication and Media Studies 3 (4): 1-19 by Common Ground Research Networks..