The Colonial Public Sphere and the Discursive Mechanism of Mindo

  • Michael Kim
Part of the Mass Dictatorship in the Twentieth Century book series (MASSD)


The public sphere plays a central role in the political life of modern societies. Various interest groups articulate their concerns and advocate their political demands through communicative action in the public realm. Yet depending on the political configuration of a particular society, the public sphere may serve as a site for the exchange of democratic ideas or a platform for ritualistic performances of loyalty to mass dictatorships. In this sense, regardless of the political system, the public sphere can enable modern politics by conferring legitimacy to both mass participatory politics and totalitarian mobilisation. Numerous scholars have debated either the presence or absence of the public sphere in authoritarian states, yet few focus on the public sphere’s role in encouraging individuals to identify with an ‘alternative rationality’ that provides symbolic significance to their lifeworlds. Thus, more careful attention to the discursive mechanisms of the public sphere may reveal critical insights into a global modernity premised on the actualisation of individual freedoms yet sometimes faltering into authoritarian excess.


Public Sphere Korean Population Colonial Government Colonial State Korean People 
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© Michael Kim, Michael Schoenhals and Yong-Woo Kim 2013

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  • Michael Kim

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