Shaping Abortion Discourse: Democracy and the Public Sphere in Germany and the United States

By Myra Marx Ferree; William Anthony Gamson et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TEN
Normative Criteria for the Public Sphere

What qualities should the public sphere have to nurture and sustain a vigorous democratic public life? More specifically, who should be participating and on what occasions? What should be the form and content of their contributions to public discourse? How should the actors communicate with each other? What are the desirable outcomes if the process is working as it should? These are normative questions that have been important issues in political theory for many years. Classical theorists such as Rousseau, Locke, and Mill provide certain broad parameters in which answers can be sought; contemporary political theory develops the answers in more detail. There is a close link between theories of the public sphere and democratic theory more generally. Democratic theory focuses on accountability and responsiveness in the decision-making process; theories of the public sphere focus on the role of public communication in facilitating or hindering this process.

We review four traditions of democratic theory in this chapter, mining them for the answers that they suggest for mass media discourse in “actually existing democracies. ”79 We regard our categorization as a convenient organizing tool for attempting to identify normative criteria that play a significant role within and across perspectives. A number of writers overlap traditions or make shifts over time, so we consider their ideas wherever it seems most convenient. Often we will different traditions calling attention to similar criteria, and sometimes there are different emphases among theorists that we are grouping together and calling a tradition. The boundaries do not really matter

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79
Fraser (1997) uses the phrase to distinguish normative theories based on nonutopian and achievable assumptions.

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Shaping Abortion Discourse: Democracy and the Public Sphere in Germany and the United States
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents vii
  • Tables and Figures ix
  • Foreword xi
  • Preface xv
  • Glossary xix
  • Part I - Introduction 1
  • Chapter One - Two Related Stories 3
  • Chapter Two - Historical Context 24
  • Chapter Three - Methods 45
  • Part II - Major Outcomes 59
  • Chapter Four - The Discursive Opportunity Structure 61
  • Chapter Five - Standing 86
  • Chapter Six - Framing 105
  • Part III - Representing Different Constituencies 129
  • Chapter Seven - Representing Women's Claims 131
  • Chapter Eight - Representing Religious Claims 154
  • Chapter Nine - Representing the Tradition of the Left 179
  • Part IV - The Quality of Abortion Discourse 201
  • Chapter Ten - Normative Criteria for the Public Sphere 205
  • Chapter Eleven - Measuring the Quality of Discourse 232
  • Chapter Twelve - Metatalk 255
  • Chapter Thirteen - Lessons for Democracy and the Public Sphere 286
  • Methodological Appendix 305
  • References 325
  • Index 339
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