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Good Governance and Confidentiality; Preservation of the Public Sphere

Public sphere

The public sphere defined by German sociologist a philosopher Jürgen Habermas is an area in social life where people can get together and freely discuss an didentify societal problems, and through that discussion influence political action. Some relate the public sphere to the Greek agora[1]. Some point out to the forming of a public opinion. It is a discursive space in which individuals and groups congregate to discuss matters of mutual interestand, where possible, to reach a common judgment. The public sphere can be seen as a theater in modern societies in which political participation is enacted through the medium of talk and an area of social life in which public opinion can be formed.

The public sphere is important condition for good governance to emerge (Odugbemi andJacobson 2008).  For the public sphere to function properly transparency, accountability, confidentiality and privacy are essential. There must be a sufficient amount trust for the Public sphere to function properly.

The public sphere mediates between the private sphere and the sphere of public authority. The private sphere includes civil society in then arrower sense and the area of commodity exchange and of social labor. In other words the market. Where as the sphereof public authority dealt with the State, or area of the police, and the ruling class, the public sphere crossed over both these realms and through the public opinion it put the state in touch with the needs of society. The Public sphere is conceptually distinct from the state: it is a space for the production and circulation of dialogues that can in principle be critical of the state. The Public sphere is also distinct from the economy; it is not an arena of market relations but rather one of discursive relations, a stage for debating and deliberating rather than for buying and selling. These distinctions between state apparatuses, economic markets, and democratic associations are essential to democratic theory. The people themselves came to see the public sphere as a regulatory institution against the authority of the state. The study of the public sphere centers on the concept of participatory democracy, and how public opinion becomes political action. “Participatory democracy can be characterized by the ability and willingness of individuals to engage with political actors in the democratic process. The participants have a sense of‘personal responsibility to struggle against systemic exclusion and domination and believing that one can be successful against this domination (Nylen, p.28).” (Belden, 2009)

The basic belief in public sphere theory is that political action is directed by the public sphere, and that the only lawful governments are those that listen to the public sphere. Democratic governance is based on the capability of and chance for citizens to engage in open-minded debate.  But Calhoun (2010) argues that the public sphere per definition is always somewhat influenced by other interest of the private sector and the public sector. The public sector is notfree from other influences.

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