Intimization of Public

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 14:30
Location: Seminar 34 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Lisa WALDENBURGER, Foeg - Forschungsinstitut Öffentlichkeit und Gesellschaft, Switzerland
Christian CASPAR, Foeg - Forschungsinstitut Öffentlichkeit und Gesellschaft, Switzerland
The dichotomy of public and private is regarded as the main attribute of well-organized western societies in late modernity. In the course of recent economic and technological developments -- particularly the digitalization and commodification of public mass communication -- the boundaries between public and private get blurry.

Our project “Intimization of the Public” (funded-by-Schweizer-Nationalfonds) proposes, that the changes in the relation of public and private lead to an intimization of the public sphere (Imhof 2011). We concur that social media is an integral part of this development, but are also convinced that it can only be analyzed within the scope of broader developments. Our research is based on three indicators: Extensification of personal relations, the loss of rationality in the public and the shift from trust in institutions/the social contract towards trust in specific persons. We are collecting data from television and print media for the timeframe 1962-2014 with the purpose of retracing the ongoing intimization of the public and the genesis of theme-specific publics. In addition we will analyze the use of social media.

With this in mind we will focus on ‘our’ understanding of intimization and describe our research design. In the second part we want to talk about ‘how technology changes people’s subjectivities’, especially in which way intimization influences identity and the formation of the self. Within the quest for “gelingende Weltbeziehungen”(Rosa 2012) -- relations to the world, which are a prerequisites for human flourishing -- the subjects of late modernity are confronted with the problem of finding new rooms for self-affirmation. Here we will concentrate on the evaluation of qualitative interviews with facebook-users and non-users. The aim is to understand, whether the use of social media is in a sense liberating and consequential or if it is a new spin on the social imperative of self-perfection.