So can we trust the media?
The breakdown is society that I have briefly outlined above, in terms of an overall meaning, purpose or truth (metanarrative) or even a singular, textual meaning found in cultural production (postmodern texts as shallow and surface – all style no substance), along with the breakdown of society into individual consumers (away from the notion of local community) and the breakdown of the individual (as a fragmentary, pluralist, alienated and anxious being), are carried together in Jürgen Habermas. Particularly, in his arguments found in the Transformation of the Public Sphere (1962) and in his 1973 publication The Legitmation Crisis; and his essay Modernity – an Unfinished Project (1980).
For Habermas, ‘our very ability to make truth claims is dependent on a democratically organised public sphere which approximates an ideal speech situation‘ (Barker & Jane, 2016:233). It is a position that links modern society and communications systems to the ideals of the Enlightenment (discussed below) – it is an ideal space ‘between society and the state where the public can organise itself and where public opinion is formed’ (ibid). However, Habermas traces the decline in the public sphere identified already in this process through a range of societal shifts:
- the increased globalisation of economic trade,
- the transformation of citizens into consumers
- the increase in digital communication technologies
- the dominance of a small economic elite over global economic, political and cultural exchange