Democracy and public discourse

Keywords: communication, public sphere, politics, democracy, culture, identity


Contemporary accessible social media create the newest condition that enables both collective and individual independent voices to resonate with many, changing public opinion and affecting politics. This article explores the connection between politics of democracy and current communication medium. Color revolutions, particularly the one experienced in Ukraine, raise an issue of the present day relation between public and political spheres in the new global communicative context. Following the detailed analysis of the modern formation of public sphere done by Charles Taylor the author concentrates on the influence of communication on democratization processes. Amongst others, he focuses on such principle features of the public sphere as domination of rationality in its formation, its claims for providing accountability norms for power, and particularly on its extra-political status. In its turn, these key characteristics of the sphere include everyone as its potential legitimate participant. The field experience gained during the Ukrainian Revolution of Dignity make it possible to correct the view on interrelations of politics and the public sphere. According to the latest observations their interrelation is much tighter than it was assumed from the prior modern experience. There also could be marked the high level of public emotional attitudes contrary to supposed rationality of the public discourse, i.e., the sentiments of protest against injustice, violated dignity; and moreover, the same holds true for the subsequent voting for a new political leadership, based mainly on ethical and esthetical grounds. The latter increases dependence of powers that be on the public’s day-to-day feeling of their legitimacy. To elucidate the new state of interpenetration between two given spheres the author examines the issue of specificity of discourse that unites both. It is analyzed via revision of relations between politics and the public sphere through the question of whether “all is political” developed by Jean-Luc Nancy in his articles on democracy inspired by the recent anniversary of May ’68 events in France. It gives an opportunity to apply his initial demarcation of the two dimensions of democracy as just distribution of wealth and as regulative ideals of equality and freedom to the current state of communication between political and public spheres. It also allows to establish that it’s precisely the democratic ideals, concerning each and every one, that expand the frameworks of the sphere of political beyond its traditional meaning through inclusion of a broad spectrum of people’s cultural experiences. The author links current co-existence of liberal and conservative values within liberal democracies with people’s experiencing of their cultural identity. That conclusion gives the basis to clarify a phenomenon of rising conservatism inherent in today’s politics.

Author Biography

Yevhen Bystrytsky

doctor of sciences in philosophy, professor, Department of Philosophy of Culture, Ethics and Aesthetics, H.S. Skovoroda Institute of Philosophy, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.


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How to Cite
Bystrytsky, Y. (2020). Democracy and public discourse. Filosofska Dumka, (6), 46-63.