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Craig Calhoun

WithJoyce Appleby, Elizabeth Covington, David Hoyt, Michael Latham, Allison Sneider

Craig Calhoun, a professor of sociology and history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, explores in this essay the significance of some of Jürgen Habermas’s most intriguing concepts. Originally published in German in 1962, Habermas’s The Structural Transformation ofthe Public Sphere was not published in English until 1989. For many social critics, Habermas’s idea of a public sphere provides a direct challenge to radical elements in postmodernist thought. Instead of discourses intrinsically tied to power structures or language paralyzed by the possibility of infinite interpretation, Habermas attempts to describe a set of conditions in which individuals might assert positions, make truth-claims, and arrive at uncoerced agreement through rational argument.