Re-Inventing the Public Sphere: Critical Theory, Social Responsibility, Schools, and the Press.
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
William F. Pinar
This study examines the contemporary discourses of journalism and pedagogy from the standpoint of critical theory to assess the impact of technocratic rationality and instrumental logic on the practices of communication and education. It is premised on the observation that, spurred by the imperatives of trans-national capital accumulation, privatization inimical to democratic interests has begun to colonize public education. The study represents an effort to reactivate a concept and rhetoric of "social responsibility" that would animate a project of reclaiming cultural space to be occupied by a "public sphere," in a struggle analagous to that waged against feudalism and monarchical "Divine Right.". The study argues that communication and education, the essential minima of language, are the basic elements of all cultural development. It makes the case that, by deploying artificial antinomies, education and communication techno-bureaucracy conceals fundamental similarities between the projects of journalism and pedagogy at the levels of both theory and practice--with respect to their complementary roles in enabling citizen participation and appropriating social knowledge in democratic culture--in order to better facilitate reproduction of dominant corporatist ideologies. Taking as the paradigm case the U.S. Supreme Court's 1968 decision in the matter of Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, the study applies a Foucauldian analytic to evaluate both the Court's decision and responses to it in mainstream press editorials, press industry trade and association periodicals, and journalism reviews. It finds mainstream acceptance on the grounds of its representation of "real world" conditions, equivocal "balance" in the trades, and "resistance" themes in the reviews. The study then thematizes the operation of techno-bureaucratic rationality in the decline of the bourgeois public sphere, and responds to critics who have disparaged social responsibility theory. Finally, it argues for the relevance of such a theory, and explores its implications as a rationale for educational praxis based on the public sphere as counterpoise to the hegemony of state corporatism. Suggestions for further research on the impact potential of desk-top publishing installed in communities, condominium-style, and prepared for by teaching journalistic praxis for a democratic local press, are proffered.
Konopak, John Pace, "Re-Inventing the Public Sphere: Critical Theory, Social Responsibility, Schools, and the Press." (1989). LSU Historical Dissertations and Theses. 4786.