Vernacular Rhetoric, Considered Public Opinion and Modes of Publicity
Publicity is the bedrock of a democracy. The viability of a political public sphere depends on open access to information and the media plus freedom of expression to publicize opinions and engage in informed public deliberation. Without it, the political subject is reduced to a monolinguist who communicates desires, interests, and ideas to immediate surroundings but is denied an audience of interlocutors or a public capacitated to eff ectively respond. As Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann (1984) has instructed, fear of isolation may encourage public expressions of conformity but it also encourages seeking information that will confi rm whether concerns, and quite possibly views, are shared. The possibility of a political public forming, discovering its interests, and expressing its opinions in order to authorize action is foreclosed without publicity.