Democracy and the Public Sphere in Germany
and the United States
Using controversy over abortion as a lens through which to compare the political process and the role of the media in these two very different democracies, this book examines the contest over meaning that is being waged by social movements, political parties, churches, and other social actors. Abortion is a critical battleground for debates over social values in both countries, but the constitutional premises on which arguments rest differ, as do the strategies that movements and parties adopt and the opportunities for influence that are open to them. By examining how these debates are conducted, and by whom, in light of the normative claims made by democratic theorists, the book also offers a means of judging how well either country lives up to the ideals of democratic debate in practice.
Myra Marx Ferree is Professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She is the co-author of Controversy and Coalition: The New Women's Movement Across Three Decades of Change (2000) and co-editor of Re-visioning Gender (1998).
William Anthony Gamson is Professor of Sociology and co-directs the Media Research and Action Project (MRAP) at Boston College. He is the author of Talking Politics (1992) and The Strategy of Social Protest (2nd edition, 1990).
Jürgen Gerhards is Professor of Sociology at the University of Leipzig. His many publications include Die Vermessung kultureller Unterschiede. Deutschland und USA im Vergleich (Measuring Cultural Differences: Germany and the U. S. in a Comparative Perspective) (2000).
Dieter Rucht is Professor of Sociology at the Social Science Research Center, Berlin. His many publications include Jugendkulturen, Politik und Protest (Youth Cultures, Politics, and Protest) (2000).