What Happened to the Public Sphere? The Networked Public Sphere and Public Opinion Formation

  • Jonas KaiserEmail author
  • Birte Fähnrich
  • Markus Rhomberg
  • Peter Filzmaier
Living reference work entry


The concepts of democracy, public sphere, and public opinion are as closely intertwined as contested. Since the dawn of the Internet, scholars have argued about its opportunities, challenges, and risks for society. Recent developments appear fundamental in that they have touched upon the core of Western democracies – the making of a public sphere and the forming of public opinion. The spread of digital media and changing modes of communication thus have made it necessary to reconsider classical conceptions of public sphere and public opinion. Against this background, we will posit that the emergence of the networked public sphere forces us to rethink the concepts of public sphere and public opinion in a less normative, more open, and interactive way that both is permeable to the offline world as well as to transnational demands and influences.


Public sphere Public opinion Internet Network Democracy Social media Agenda setting Climate of opinion Mass media Digital divide Online communication Fragmentation Anonymity Participation Opinion leader Spiral of silence 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonas Kaiser
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Birte Fähnrich
    • 4
  • Markus Rhomberg
    • 1
  • Peter Filzmaier
    • 2
  1. 1.Department for Political and Social SciencesZeppelin UniversityFriedrichshafenGermany
  2. 2.Platform Political CommunicationDanube University KremsKremsAustria
  3. 3.Berkman Klein Center for Internet & SocietyHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  4. 4.Zeppelin UniversityFriedrichshafenGermany

Section editors and affiliations

  • David F. J Campbell
    • 1
  1. 1.USAUnited States

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