The Counter-Public Sphere



Ten years after the publication of Habermas’s influential The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere,1 Alexander Kluge and Oskar Negt produced a polemical reply to Habermas’s thesis with their 1972 collaboration entitled, Public Sphere and Experience: Analysis of the Bourgeois and Proletarian Public Sphere.2 Kluge and Negt subjected Habermas’s public sphere to a forensic examination in order to affirm Habermas’s notion of a public sphere while disputing his definition of it. The Habermasian public sphere was, they pointed out, one that ignored the existence of other public spheres and reflected and protected the specific interests of the bourgeoisie. In particular, they pointed to the connection that early philosophers of reason had made between economic privilege and reason. Kant3 asserted that only those who owned property possessed the freedom necessary to exercise disinterested rational judgement. He argued that those who owned property were ‘their own masters’ as opposed to the propertyless who were still locked into the competitive social relations that prevented them from being able to deliberate upon universal, moral and political concerns.


Public Sphere Material World Commodity Production Property Ownership Free Citizen 
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  1. 1.
    Jürgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An inquiry into a category of bourgeois society (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1989).Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    Cited in Susanne Kappeler, The Will To Violence: The politics ofpersonal behaviour (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1995) p. 210.Google Scholar
  3. 7.
    Couze Venn, Occidentalism: Modernity and subjectivity (London: Sage Publications, 2000) pp. 144–5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 12.
    Kathryn Church, Forbidden Narratives: Critical autobiography as a social science (London: Gordon & Breach Science Publishers Ltd., 1995) pp. 73–90.Google Scholar
  5. 16.
    Ferruccio Rossi-Landi, ‘Kapital and Privateigentum der Sprache,’ in Asthetic and Kommunikation 7(1972): 44, cited in Kluge & Negt, op. cit., pp. 3–4.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Angie Sandhu 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sheffield Hallam UniversityUK

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