Coordinated by Aurelian GIUGĂL


Habermasʼ Normative Model of Public Sphere

 in the Current Debate of the European Public Sphere



Institute of Political Sciences and International Relations of the Romanian Academy


Abstract: This study includes an examination of the concept of public sphere, as is it grounded in the work Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit (1962), the specification of the main changes and nuances by which Habermas has realized the deepening” of the normative grounding of the critical theory of societyin his subsequent works, especially in Faktizität und Geltung (1992), and the outlining of the applicability degree of Habermasʼ deliberative model of public sphere in the “post-national political realm” of the European Union. The assumption of this approach is that the Habermasʼ normative model of public sphere, through its critical-deliberative dimension, indicates means of democratic legitimation which are applicable to the representative institutions of European Union.

Keywords: public sphere, private sphere, normative model, rationality of communication, democratic deliberation.





The purpose of this study is to examine the relevance of Habermasʼ normative model for the theorization of public sphere in a transnational framework, mainly its relevance for a theory of European public sphere[i]. The assumption of this approach is that (1) Habermasʼ normative model of the public sphere contains, through a deliberative critical dimension with which Habermasʼs name has become virtually synonymous”[ii], procedures of democratic legitimation[iii] which are applicable to the representative institutions of EU and (2) completed and nuanced in his recent work, Habermasʼ model represents the maximum in terms of communicational and deliberative requirements which, under the conditions of the network” of formal and informal sovereignties of the EU public domain, could compete to correct the democratic deficit” of the EU, to build an interactive relationships between European institutions and the citizens of Europe resulted in democratic rational results”. This study comprises an overview of the concept of public sphere grounded in the work Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit (1962), the indication of the main changes and nuances whereby Habermas has deepened” the normative founding of the critical theory of society” in his later works, especially in Faktizität und Geltung (1992), and the specifying of the applicability degree of the Habermasʼ deliberative public sphere model in the post-national political domain” of the EU.




The theory formulated by Habermas in Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit: Untersuchungen zu einer Kategorie der bürgerlichen Gesellschaft (1962) has become increasingly central for the debate of the rationality of democratic communication and deliberation in the last decades, including English-speaking area[iv], he representing the locus classicus of all the discussions on the public sphere[v].

            The historical structuration of the public sphere, according to Habermasʼ perspective, has to be identified in the “categories of Greek origin transmitted to us bearing a Roman stamp”: in discussion (lexis), consultation and sitting in the court of law, as well as common action (praxis) of the equal citizens (homoioi) which “did [their] best to excel (aristoiein)” and to gain the public recognition of their quality as virtuous people.

According to Habermas, to the Hellenic, “classical” public sphere model[vi] is due the “peculiarly normative power” which has been transmitted to us “since the Renaissance”, to the definitions of the Roman law, transmitted “throughout the Middle Ages”, being owed the categories of the public and the private and of “the public sphere understood as res publica[vii]. Since their effective application in the legal practice has been realized again “only with the rise of the modern state and of that sphere of civil society separated from it”[viii], the paradigm through which Habermas has analysed the public sphere („the public opinion sphere”) is that of modernity. German author's theses are that: (1) the public-private division manifested as “separation” of the modern state (“the sphere of public power”) from the civil society (“private sphere of the civil society” which became “public”[ix]) makes it possible the political self-definition and legal institutionalization of a public sphere in a bourgeois specific sense and that (2) during the last century the social foundations of the state and civil society undergo a process of dissolution which implies tendencies of public sphere disaggregation and of its function debilitation. In Habermasʼ view, the understanding of the historical structures of the “complex that today, confusedly enough, we subsume under the heading ʻpublic sphere,ʼ” is the access path to “a systematic comprehension of our own society from the perspective of one of its central categories”.

            The bourgeois public sphere implies, in an initial definition, “the sphere of private people come together as a public” that “claimed the public sphere” regulated by the authorities in order to engage it against them. The aim has been the acquisition of the capacity to discuss with the power the general rules of the sphere of commodity exchange and social, a domain “basically privatized, but publicly relevant[x]. This “political separation” is attributed to so-called “peoples public use of their reason öffentliches Räsonnement” or peoples public use of their reason” that reported polemically to the public authority, therefore to the private persons who, as public, related to each other in an attempt “to subject domination” to the standards of ʻreasonʼ and the forms of the ʻlawʼ” and, thereby, in the attempt to change it substantially.

            According to Habermas, “the public sphere explicitly assuming political functions”, namely the sphere that called into question through “critical reasoning of private persons” “the public nature of public power”, was preceded by a public sphere in apolitical form, the literary form or the training ground for a critical public reflection in a “process of self-clarification of private people… on the genuine experiences of their novel privateness” and that materialized itself, by culture, in a “discussion through which an audience-oriented (publikumsbezogen) subjectivity communicated with itself[xi]. This “public sphere in the world of letters (literarische Öfflentlichkeit)” covered centres of criticism that gradually assumed political functions and imposed the principle of parity between the aristocratic society and the intellectuals, “bourgeois avant-garde of the educated middle class” (to whom joined then other categories of persons who participated directly in capitalist production, “the great urban merchants and officials who… could be assimilated by the cultivated nobility”). If in this public sphere (literary cercles and societies or Sprachgesellschaften, salons, coffee houses, “table societies” or Tischgesellschaften, Freemasonry, press) “the mind was no longer in the service of a patron” is because the “ʻopinionʼ became emancipated from the bonds of economic dependence”, among persons of unequal social status existing “equality and community” by virtue of “their common quality as human beings and nothing more than human beings[xii]. In Habermasʼ view, the decisive element of this fusionof private persons was their exclusiveness in relation to the political realm of absolutism, the social equality of the members of these societies being an equality outside the state” and still under the sign of the lack of publicity (“a public sphere still existing largely behind closed doors”). The sphere of this fusionadopted by educated human beings who used their rational faculty was perceived as a potential threat to any and to all relations of domination, therefore it was imposed against sphere regulated by authorities, just like the bourgeois public sphere at whose creation helped.

This type of rational communication, grounded on the principle of parity and of rational argument, the questioning of some areas previously considered as “unassailable” and the involvement of a public un-secluded” and “psychological emancipatedwere the most important institutional criteria” of the public sphere with apolitical functioning. Following the literary public sphere model in order to mediate between power and the internal micro-familial space of bourgeois intellectuals (Intimsphäre), the political public sphere played the role of mediator between state and societys needs through the public opinion. It should be underlined Habermasʼ identification of the line “between state and society” with the line that “divided the public sphere from the private realm”, but also his ascertainment that, rigorously, with reference to the eighteenth century, the public realm comprised the public power or the state (to which is still attached the Court and the courtly noble society), the private realm subsuming both the private sphere (the civil society in its narrower sense, namely the realm of commodity exchange and social labour and the family, with its conjugal internal space), and the authentic “public sphere”, as public sphere constituted by the private people.

“The accomplishing” and “the re-functioning” of the literary public sphere as political public sphere is presented as result of the process whereby the public, constituted “of private people making use of their reason”, appropriates “the state-governed public sphere” and establishes it “as a sphere of criticism of public authority”[xiii]. The public sphere is that wherein enters the experiential complex of audience-oriented privacy. At the same time, as a result of disputing the regulation of the social sphere between the public opinion and public power,


the theme of the modern (in contrast to the ancient) public sphere shifted from the properly political tasks of a citizenry acting in common (i.e., administration of law as regards internal affairs and military survival as regards external affairs) to the more properly civic tasks of a society engaged in critical public debate (i.e., the protection of a commercial economy)[xiv].


The political task” of the bourgeois public sphere, namely “the regulation of civil society (in contradistinction to the res publica)” in order to guarantee the freedom to counteract the political authority, was placed by Habermas in the prolongation of the philosophical tradition of the category of the lex generalis or universalis. Introduced “implicitly” in the domain of social philosophy and politics by Hobbes and defined “explicitly” by Montesquieu, the governing principle “by established standing laws, promulgated and known to the people”, by “rational rules of a certain universality and permanence”, has been subsumed to “the quintessence of general, abstract, and permanent norms”, to which it is inherent “a rationality in which what is right converges with what is just”[xv]. Thus, the configuration of the public opinion is explained as a result of “the power of the better argument” which claims a “morally pretentious rationality”, but one which “strove to discover what was at once just and right”. As such, the public opinion “had insight into the ordre naturel” and made it visible in the form of general norms so as “the enlightened monarch” to base on it his actions and to attempt a “convergence with reason”. As a result, the crucial category” of legal norm is identified by Habermas as a means which led to “the self-interpretation of the public in the political realm”.

The ambivalence of the private sphere of the bourgeois “owner of goods and persons and one human being among others, i.e., bourgeois and home is identified also in his public sphere, where is transferred by the manifestation of the bourgeois desire and requirement to influence the public power not only in behalf of the possibility to manifest their subjectivity as human beings, but also in beheld of their common interest. In this way, Habermas has revealed that in the political public sphere the interest of private owners generally get to converge with the interest of individual liberty so that, according to Lockes axiom, the preservation of property subsumes “in the same breath” “the life, liberty and estate under the title of ʻpossessionʼ”and, according to young Marxs distinction, the “human” emancipation come to be identified with political emancipation.

The public sphere with a political functioning has acquired the character of a public organ only when the rule of law, as the bourgeois state minimal defined from an organizational point of view by a “ʻrationalʼ administration and ʻindependentʼ justice assured the interdependence of law and of opinion public”, i.e. the possibility that the audience of private persons to acquire legislative competence. Habermas indicated that the basic rights guarantee:


the spheres of the public realm and of the private (with the intimate sphere at its core); the institutions and instruments of the public sphere, on the one hand (press, parties), and the foundation of private autonomy (family and property), on the other; finally, the functions of the private people, both their political ones as citizens and their economic ones as owners of commodities (and, as ʻhuman beings,ʼ those of individual communication, e.g., through inviolability of letters)”[xvi].


Also, Habermas stated that the circumscribing of the public realm and of its functions has as a result the transformation of the public sphere in organizational principle of the state organs by “publicity” or by “the principle of universal access”.

The structural transformation or the “downfall” of the public sphere is considered by Habermas as being coincident with/determined by “the close of the liberal era”, with the manifestation “hand in hand” of a kind of refeudalization of society and of a neomercantilist policy. In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, after the great depression that began in 1873 and after the economic and commercial revival which followed, “the sacred principles of free trade” were abandoned in favour of the trends of capital concentration and the merger of larger companies enjoying oligopolistic positions which restricted the competition and divided up the market by way of price and production agreements. The movements of industrial capital meant the concentration of “social power” in private hands and the “re-feudalisation” of “the vertical relationships”, between these “collective units” emerging both relationships of one-sided dependency and of “mutual pressure”. Habermas has shown that these processes of concentration and crisis, in parallel, “pulled the veil of an exchange of equivalents off the antagonistic structure of society”, so that “the transparence” of its independence grounded on coercive constraints has made more stringent “the need for a strong state”[xvii]. The state intervention in the social sphere, under the conditions in which the conflicts of interests could not be regulated exclusively in the private sphere and converted into political conflicts, meant in the long-term the extension of public authority over some private areas. This “dialectics” manifested in the late nineteenth century through the increasing “state-fication” of society (the “organized” capitalism) and progressive socialization of the state (the process by which the private sphere or powers of “society” themselves assumed functions of public authority) gradually “destroyed” the bases of bourgeois public sphere, “dissolved” “the public sphere in its liberal form”, by transgressing “the separation of state and society”. What followed was a repoliticized public sphere[xviii], distant from the distinction between “public” and “private”, which gave way of assuming new, “multilateral”, functions by the state, the functions of social state manifested in the field of providing protection, compensation, and subsidies to the economically weaker social groups, to workers (including the redistribution of incomes), of preventing long-term changes in the social structure, of influencing private and of regulating public investments, and of provisioning of services.

            In Habermasʼ view, despite the “democratic influenceof public intervention in the private domain of economic order, the relations in general have not been articulated in public or private institutions, but by introducing rules of social law, as the property rights have been restricted not only by political and economic interventions but also by legal guaranteeing which “intended to restore materially the formal equality of the partners contracting within typical social situations[xix]. Moreover, system of private law, infracted by the increasing number of contracts between the public authority and private persons[xx], has been coextensive to a public law from which the state “has flown”, transferring “the tasks of public administration to enterprises, institutions, corporations, and semiofficial agencies under private law”. Beyond the parallelism: “publification” of private law privatization of public law, “the reciprocal permeation of the state by society and of society by the state” has implied a process of polarization  of the social sphere and the intimate sphere or of developing of them into different directions: "the family became ever more private and the world of work and organization ever more public[xxi], even more objectified, taking [through that oikos of the big firms] functions initially assumed by the public institutions [“the industrial feudalism”].

The political character of bourgeois culture or literary public sphere it has been lost by “spreading” of the literary public sphere into the realm of consumption, since in these circumstances the market laws have entered in the sphere reserved for private persons who came together as public and “the web of public communication unraveled into acts of individuated reception, however uniform in mode[xxii].

In the circumstances in which the culture spread by the media was put in terms of “a patented culture industry” whose products “bring forth in their consumers consciousness the illusion of bourgeois privacy”, “social psychological transmutation of the original relation between the intimate domain and the literary public sphere was linked sociologically to the structural transformation of the family itself” and to the “dismantling” of the institutions which until the middle of the nineteenth century have assured “the coherence of the public as a critically debating entity”. Thus, as L. L. Schücking showed, “Gentlemen's societies and associations died out, drinking groups were dissolved, and clubs went into eclipse; the notion of social obligations that had played such a great role became hollows[xxiii]. As a result, the relationship between the domain of interiority and the public sphere has been tendentially developed “as reifications related to the-inner life”, as absorption and exposure of the problems of private existence in the public sphere and as formation of “the consciousness of privacy” by publication, which takes on from “the sphere generated by the mass media” “the traits of a secondary realm of intimacy”[xxiv].

The disintegration of the bourgeois public sphere was emphasized, therefore, by the “culture” extended through the media, which acted, beyond the minorities of specialists, for the integration of the “mass of receptors”. As pointed out Kellner, for Habermas, “the function of the media have thus been transformed from facilitating rational discourse and debate within the public sphere into shaping, constructing, and limiting public discourse to those themes validated and approved by media corporations[xxv]. In essence, the media culture and the publicity “generated from above”, namely those that removes the critical publicity, has come to dominate “the domination of nonpublic opinion”, serving to the manipulation of the public and the legitimation before it. Given that this culture of “integration”, promoted by media, was the mobile of some public relations favorable to the statu quo, the public sphere that it potentiated becoming, on the whole, “more depoliticized and more privatized”. Simultaneously, has been imposed a “repoliticized” social sphere which could not be

subsumed under the categories of public and private from either a sociological or a legal perspective. In this intermediate sphere the sectors of society that had been absorbed by the state and the sectors of the state that had been taken over by society intermeshed without involving any rational-critical political debate on the part of private people[xxvi].


The repoliticization” implied in fact “the relief” of the public from the duty of using politically the judgment and the taking over of this task by other institutions, by associations in which collectively organized private interests directly attempted to take on the form of political agency and by parties which have transformed themselves from instruments of the public sphere in formations established “above the public”. As a result, “the process of the politically relevant exercise and equilibration of power now takes place directly between the private bureaucracies, special-interest associations, parties, and public administration”, the public being “included only sporadically in this circuit of power, and even then it is brought in only to contribute its acclamation[xxvii].

The changing of the idea of public sphere operating in the political realm was clearly, beyond the principle of publicity and culture propagated by the mass media, in the dissolution and obsolescence” of the link between public discussion and legal norm,  the liberal concept of legal norms involving “elements of universality and truth: justice as equivalent to rightness (Richtigkeit)”. Habermas revealed that the generality of laws in the strict sense was guaranteed only so long as the undisturbed autonomy of society as a private sphere made it possible “to restrict normative regulation to the general conditions of a compromise between interests”, the “truth” of the laws guaranteeing being  realized “as long as a public sphere, elevated in the parliament to an organ of the state, made it possible to discover, through public discussion, what was practically necessary in the general interest“[xxviii]. According to Habermas, the general nature of the rules could not be maintained as a principle under the conditions of the separation of state and society and of government intervention in the social order because this “formal nature of that universality which guaranteed ʻtruthʼ as rightness” was subsumed to the “dialectic of a concept of law” based on the dialectic of the bourgeois public sphere.




The concept of the public sphere operating in the political realm, proposed in 1962 in Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit: Untersuchungen zu einer Kategorie der bürgerlichen Gesellschaft“naturalized on different levels of study as a sort of manual” and whose current adequacy was re-confirmed by the evolutions from Central and Eastern Europe after 1989 was considered by the author in his Foreword to the 1990 German edition of the work as providing forwards an “appropriate analytical perspective”[xxix]. Habermas specified in this context, responding to criticisms of his theory and with reference to the authors who have developed his ideas that, under the conditions in which “the extra-scientific nature of the horizon of contemporary historical experience" has changed after the Adenauer regime and in which the theoretical issues of public sphere has also changed, his own theory has changed in terms of the degree of complexity, maintaining for sure its fundamental features.

Admitting the various arenas for the struggle of views in modern public sphere, Habermas was determined to admit that his model of institutionalization of the public sphere in bourgeois rule of law should become more flexible by including “the potential self-transformations” generated by “the tensions” in the public sphere. What Habermas has nuanced, moreover, by exploiting the new researches on the impact of commercialization and channeling the communication ways were the conclusions on the infrastructure of public sphere. The German author re-dimensionsioned mainly the power of media organized in order to manipulate- to transform the public sphere in a “private arena of power” in which “occurs not only the fight for influence, but also for an efficient routing of the communication flows, disguised as possible in the strategic intentions”[xxx] and in which cannot be inserteduncontrolled capitalizing views”.

Revisions he applied especially in the analysis of the modified behavior of the public by valuing the role of school instruction in the formation of mass culture and, in particular, by revealing the role of political culture for of “the reaction potential of a mass public”, an inactive public, with a “privatistic state of spirit”, a public that does not “meditates” the culture but consumes it, apluralistic mass public”, “widely differentiated”, but that exceeded the barriers of class and set “a new intimacy between culture and politics”.

Returning to the evaluation modality of the difference between the autonomous processes of public communication and those of power frustrated” communication, Habermas considered that


“the power frustration degree should be measured by the extent to which the institutionalized, non-public opinions hence those cultural evidences which constitute the context of the lifeworld (Lebenswelt) and the foundation of the public communication are shorted by the flow of formal, quasi-official opinions, by those opinions offered by the media and those which the economy and the state seek to influence as it they were some products of the surrounding world system, or by the level at which both realms are mediated through a critical publicity[xxxi]


Habermas has deepened” the “normative foundation of the critical theory of societyby using as instrument his theory of communicative action or the theory meant to circumscribe the potential of rationality in even everyday communication practice. The German author sought to avoid “the abstract opposition between norm and reality” by renouncing to the “stylization of some prototypical individual traits of the communicational rationality, institutional materializedin favor of an empirical approach. As a matter of fact, the complexity of the differentiated functioning of societies was, as specified the author, the mobile of jointing in the work Legitimationsprobleme im Spätkapitalismus (1973) of the concept of lifeworld (Lebenswelt)[xxxii], introduced in the work Zur Logik der Sozialwissenschaften (1967), with that of “system maintaining its boundaries”, so that in the Theorie des kommunikativen Handelns (1981) be able to sustained a two step concept”: “the society as lifeworld and as a system”, with decisive consequences for the concept of democracy”[xxxiii]. In this way becomes possible to examine the implications of the essential division of contemporary societies: “the lifeworld”, governed by the norms of communicative interaction, and “the system”, directed imperative through money and power.

Whereas he understood the functioning of society as being strongly marked by “the systematic integration” of the economy and the state apparatus, by the impossibility to “reform them from within”, to transform them democratically or to "transpose them into a mode of political integration”, Habermas considered as being possible “the radical democratizationonly by “moving forces within a ʻdivision of powerʼ. In these circumstances, a new balance was considered possible “not between the state powers, but between the different resources of social integration”, especially by preventing “the colonizing abusive interventions” of “the regulatory resources, money and administrative power[xxxiv], by integrative social force of solidarity” (“the productive force of communication”).

Habermas highlighted the intersubjective approach of the concept of solidarity which he proposed, one that links the understanding with “the criticisable claims of validity”, with the possibility of autonomous and responsible subjects to say no”, and, of course, with the “sphere of morality.”

Democratization would require, in these circumstances, as the productive power of communication to be reflected in a process of “general deliberation” which gives legitimacy to the law”, i.e. in “procedures of democratic configuration of will and opinion, which have to justify the assumption that it could be obtained rational results”[xxxv]. Only to the extent in that performs “the discursive configuration of public opinion and of citizens will” the public sphere become the basic concept of a normative theory of democracy. As such, the political mobilization and the using of communication productive force, on which is based on such a concept, can reasonably determine a rationally regulation, i.e. in the mutual benefit of those concerned, of the conflictual social issues.

According to Habermas, only the argumentative form of political communication that integrates the impartiality, only the medium of argumentation and negotiation can ensure the rational, discursive configuring of the will “finally oriented to truth,” consistent with a “configuration of the will constrained at temporal finitude.” The German author showed that, in essence, the normative content of a concept of democracy targets, beyond the established communicational and decision-making processes, to “the cooperative search for truth only to the extent that [it] remains permeable to values, themes, contributions and arguments that freely float in the surrounding political communication”, i.e. spontaneous, “non-organized,” “unspoiled by power.” As a result, as shown Habermas, the public sphere operating in the political realm needs not only the guarantees of the rule of law institutions, but also a cultural heritage, models of socialization and political culture of a population accustomed to freedom.”

As indicated the Foreword to the 1990 edition of the work Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit, Habermasʼ theorization of the public sphere already acquired specific emphases in the second half of the 80s. The work Faktizität und Geltung. Beiträge zur Diskurstheorie des Rechts und des demokratischen Rechtsstaats (1992) presented actually a necessary change in perspective”[xxxvi] in which the new role” of the public sphere has been subsumed to a theory of deliberative democracy[xxxvii].

In “the procedural concept of democratic process” and in the deliberative normative model formulated in Faktizität und Geltung, the role indicated for the public sphere was that to influence effectively the formal and institutionalized contexts of deliberation and decision. In the new mode” in whichthe discourse theory invested the political process with normative connotations, stronger than those found in the liberal model but weaker than those found in the republican model”, the central stage was paid to the process of political opinion- and will-formation and to the understanding the constitutional principles as a consistent answer to the question of how the demanding communicative forms of democratic opinion- and will-formation can be institutionalized[xxxviii]. As such, the role designated by Habermas for the political public sphere has been to ensure through its “peripheral networks[xxxix], a “procedural popular sovereignty” that establishes the connection with the political system[xl], the instruments of the success of deliberative policy being precisely the institutionalizing of the procedures and conditions appropriate for communication, as well as of interaction between the institutionalized deliberative processes and the informally developed public opinions.

It should be specified that Habermas emphasized the complementary relationship between the public and private sphere, i.e. the lifeworld or the sphere “from which the public, as the bearers of the public sphere, is recruited”[xli] and which consists of a network compose of communicative action or of “legitimately ordered interpersonal relationships.” What particularly emphasized the German author was that certain systems of actions formally specialized can become independent in relation to the integrated spheres through values, norms, mutual understanding and develop their own codes, as the economy does with money and the administration does with power.”[xlii] The category of the public sphere formulated in Faktizität und Geltung is thus an “extended” one and constitutes the main deliberative category of the deliberative political process, given that the procedure of deliberative democracy constitutes “the heart of democratic process[xliii].

To the definition of the public sphere as communicational structure rooted in lifeworld through the associational network of civil society or description of the public sphere as “sounding board[xliv] for the problems that must be processed by the political system it is added” a definition “from the perspective of democratic theory”:


the public sphere must, in addition, amplify the pressure of problems, that is, not only detect and identify problems but also convincingly and influentially thematize them, furnish them with possible solutions, and dramatize them in such a way that they are taken up and dealt with by parliamentary complexes.[xlv]


In Habermasʼ view, the public sphere should not only fulfill the function of "signal", but also that of effective problematization and monitorization of the manner in which the political system deals with the issues that were signaled, discussed and advanced solutions.

            From the normative perspective what matters is that the basis of legitimacy lies in the influence that public opinion has on the political system after the informal flows of public opinion were tested from the perspective of the generality of interests. As such, from normative perspective it is relevant as the public influence, generated more or less discursive, can be transformed into communicative power after its passing through the filters of institutionalized procedures of democratic opinion and will formation and its entrance, through parliamentary debate, in a process of legitimate lawmaking.

As such, in comparison with the perspective expounded in Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit – according to which the delimited institutions and practices could directly affect and transform all the areas of social life, the major fields of politics, society and everyday life being democratized –, that from Faktizität und Geltung argues that public discourse has the power to reveal the problems with broad relevance to society, to interpret the values, to contribute to solving the problems, to generate solid arguments and to remove the unfounded ones, but that the decisions are taken by the democratically constituted decision-making bodies. Therefore, “the communicative power” cannot and did not take the place of administration, but can only influence it and this influence is limited to the procurement and withdrawal of legitimation[xlvi]. In essence, the context in which the public sphere functions as a normative category is that of the junction between the formal and informal public sphere, of the dialectics between the informal public opinion and the institutionalized one, the "game" established between the political formation of the will, institutionally constituted, and the informal, spontaneous communicational flows of the unplanned and unorganized public sphere to make decisions, flows which are not absorbed by power.” The procedural mode of institutionalization of the civil society self-determination through the public opinion appears thus as the result of “the horizontal socialization” and of "the vertical forms of organization and filtering the relevant themes.” In this regard, the “enlarged” category of public sphere as communicative power resulting from the deliberative procedure of discussion and from deliberation, and as power of influence that must be mediated by political and-administrative sphere expresses the fundamental role of the principle of popular sovereignty, namely as rational procedure based on a discursively structured political communication.

The ensuring of the mediation between the political sphere of state institutions and the private sphere is liable to reflect the degree to which the society be it at micro- (sub-national), mezo- (national), or macro- (regional, European, global) level operates effectively following democratic standards, i.e. the degree to which the public debate can influence or change the course of the institutional arrangements in public interest.




The conceptualization of the public sphere as a highly complex network allowed to the German author to assert in Faktizität und Geltung the plausibility of a branched application of the normative model in a variety ofoverlapped” arenas: international, national, regional, local and subcultural, in order to reflect to specific scale the mediating articulations resulted from the lifeworld and the spheres of civil society and from the political, administrative-institutional spheres. According to a fairly wide shared view, Habermas' general thesis was actually the understanding of the global public sphere as an extension of the characteristics of a national political culture to European and global level. As a result, the most disputed issue in this regard was and is the extent to which the category of public sphere, designed for analyzing the deliberative procedures to group and national level, constitutes an appropriate analytical perspective in order to capture the deliberative procedural process to international level, to that of European Union in particular.

In the works published after 1992, Habermas has reoriented” itself toward a post-national theme Weltöffentlichkeit and kosmopolitische Öffentlichkeit in order to discuss the possibilities of a deliberative democracy involving a global public sphere. The German author's hypothesis was that the national states cannot manage the problems of political legitimization caused by the transnational evolutions that affect to varying degrees the institutionalized mechanisms of legitimization at the level of national states[xlvii]. Therefore, the basic theoretical structure of the public sphere presented in Faktizität und Geltung still needed a reformulation” in order to be applied in European and global context.

After the issuing in 1996 of the work Die Einbeziehung des Anderen. Studien zur politischen Theorie, Habermas thematized the public sphere in connection with themes like the multiculturalism, tolerance, recognition, redistribution, fundamentalism, secularization etc.[xlviii], in a changed applicative context[xlix]: the European Union enlargement on the constitutional basis amended to ensure its functioning as a “system of intergovernmental and supranational independent institutions.Habermas has devoted also many articles and studies to the theory of minorities’ recognition, to the European identity as constitutional patriotismand to the European Constitution[l].

Habermas' approach after 1992 is part of the broader current trend of designing the future of European multicultural society in the horizon of a common identity built on the ground of non-cultural factors. . Habermas wanted thus to reply to a question that has become recurrent with EU enlargement and that Eriksen synthesized as follows: “Can there be a public sphere when there is no collective identity?”, if there are not some basic sociocultural characteristics which historically are attached to the public sphere: a state which ensures the rights of the citizens, and a society that can make for allegiance and a common ‘we-feeling’ – a collective identity.[li] The type of political culture to which appealed Habermas is thin political culture, one in which the politics (prevalent) determines a redefinition of the culture so that it can serve the political functions and to pave” the road of integration. In this context, the multilingualism is not an obstacle to European federalization whose democratic evolution implies the renunciation to the assumption of macro-subjects, such as “the peopleand the community, in favor of the interconnected discourses (inter-linked) and developed communication[lii]. Moreover, Habermas suggested that the European Constitution sustains a multicultural common European identity based not on cultural links, but on shared political principles[liii].

In the logic of his normative conception on the public sphere, Habermas reiterated that only through democratic debate “the substantial State” of United Europe has the possibility to establish the procedures by which the communities can find” themselves therein. In the order of constitutional democracy what is essential, according to Habermas, is the preservation of the identity of the political community, an identity that is founded on constitutional principles rooted in the political culture and the basic ethical guidelines of the prevailing cultural life forms[liv]. But in the normative model of public sphere he laid aside all linguistic, customary, values and behaviors “cargo” in favor of focusing on the constitutional principle. According to Craig Calhoun, the discursive equality that circumscribes the public sphere following the model presented by Habermas disqualifies the discourse on the differences between actors because the differences are treated as problems of private and not of the public interest[lv]. By this, in Calhounʼs view, Habermas imagined a public sphere in which the roles are accepted, but is suspended their reality. Also, for Habermas, the best version of the public sphere would be represented by a type of social interaction which, far from assuming the equal of status, disregards the status. This “putting in brackets” of the difference, this accounting of it as irrelevant to the public sphere is justified in order to sustain the original rational-critical thesis that the arguments should be decided and promoted for their merits rather than for the identity of those who argue. For Calhoun, this "putting in brackets" would undermine even the self-reflexive capacity of the public discourse and the ability to communicate the basic differences between the members of the public sphere. The only concession that Habermas done in the last decade has been the recognition of a greater role” for the identity in the public discourse, but in its weak”, “lowest” form, in the form of “common denominatoror of “constitutional patriotism”, i.e. of the attachment to the procedural norms and conditions that a community provides for the communicative action tolerant with the differences. I think that this common European identity built on “the constitutional patriotism” can be appreciated as what Eriksen inspired called “a rationally founded identity, an identity suited for “an idealized public standard”, necessary for normative and critical purposes in order to decide whether the outcome of the deliberation is legitimate.” Such an identity involves “a higher level of abstraction” which enable to the participants to take a disinterested perspective and rule with regard to what is in the equal interest of all citizens.”[lvi]

It is not an accident that in May 2003, in the text of a manifesto[lvii] which required a European common security policy and foreign policy, one united and strong, Jürgen Habermas together with Jacques Derrida has achieved “a common intervention in the European public sphereand in favor of a European public sphere.

The anti-war movement has been associated with a European “transformative politics”, a politics which forms “a common will” and takes recourse in this regard “to the motives and the attitudes of the citizens themselves”.

According to Habermas, this common will “presupposes a feeling of common politically belonging” to both majority and minority levels, a feeling provided by the sense of “the European dimension” of their identity which was added to their national identity. More specifically, the “already fairly abstract form of civic solidarity, still largely confined to members of nation-states, must be extended to include the European citizens of other nations as well”[lviii].

The European identity is expressed thus as the conscience of a shared political destiny and the common future perspective that makes the citizens of a nation to “regard the citizens of another nation fundamentally ʻsome of usʼ”. In Habermasʼs view, the European identity, born “in the light of public sphere”, namely “the self-understanding” of Europeans and the appropriation of this understanding, is in itself a rational “construction” reflecting the primacy of “decision” on the interpretation” and which aims the guaranteeing the social security by the state and the regulation of the basis of solidarity, the understanding of the politics as organization of the power and as a medium for the institutionalization of political freedom, “the trust in the civilizing power of the stateand in states capacities to correct “market failures”, the imperative of developing new forms of supranational cooperation by “domestication of state power”, by “mutual limitation of sovereignty, on the global as well as the national state level”[lix], the capacity to “assume a reflexive distance from themselves” which would support the rejection of Eurocentrism and “the Kantian hope of a domestic global policy”[lx].

As such, the analysis of political relevance of Habermasʼ normative model of public sphere was circumscribed to the issue of the possibilities of European public sphere existence, in the conditions in which in the political practice level the main problems derived from the task of the supranational democratic construction and correction of “the democratic deficit” registered in the functioning of European institutions have proved to be those due to configuration and operation of the public sphere in European. Therefore, the analysis focused on the crucial issue of the possibility of “a public sphere in which citizens might simultaneously address common issues across state borders and see themselves as the authors of the EU laws they have to abide by”, given that, through the fundamental assumption of the conformation of EU to the democratic norms, the evolution of EU is seen as being in close connection with “the reshaping of the EU as an overarching communicative space (or spaces) that might function as a public sphere”[lxi], namely as a realm of extremely heterogeneous, “polymorph, polyphonic and even anarchistic”, which forms, according to Habermas “«einen wilden Komplex», which is vulnerable to perversions and communication disturbances”[lxii].




Beyond the many criticisms and problematic aspects, the deliberative or discursive model of public sphere developed by Habermas has the highest relevance in the debates concerning the democratic politics, the quality and the role of media and the quality of international political and cultural life. This is because, in the first place, promotes most strongly or argued the participatory democracy, delimiting a concept of the public sphere which facilitates maximum public participation”[lxiii], the most influential among the contemporary political thought.

The public sphere constitutes for Habermas, as often has been remarked, “the precondition” of the popular sovereignty or “the vehicle for democracy”. Through its normative concept, the revised andextended” ones, through the placement into a complementary relationship the communicative power of public opinion and its power of influencing is argued not only the possibility and the importance of public opinion democratization on European level, but also the necessity and the benefits of public promoting of transparency, visibility, accountability, participation, rational debate and deliberation for the legitimacy of EU institutions and policy decisions.

Habermas has the great merit of placing thus in the complementary relationship the normative legitimacy and the political effectiveness of the public opinion on European level which, by formal deliberative mechanisms, can substantially compete in terms of political practice to diminish “the democratic deficit” of the EU. Also, Habermasʼ normative model that outlines a reflective and critical concept of the public sphere reserves for the media the role of a transnational, “inclusive” and non-segmented infrastructure meant to encourage and to sustain the reflection, the value of political choice, , and the search of general societal agreement on common goods”[lxiv].

As such, Habermas has succeeded to argue not only the importance of participatory democratic procedures for the justification or legitimization of the laws and decisions on national, transnational and regional (European) levels, revealing thus the moral value of deliberation based on equal rights of participation, but also the importance of the “rational” construction of deliberation and of its epistemic value[lxv]. Such a synthesis, particularly rare in the contemporary political thought, far beyond its markedly utopian character, represents the “maximum” in terms of communicational and deliberative exigencies that could compete at correcting the democratic deficit” of the European Union, building an interactive relationship between European institutions and the citizens of Europe accomplished in rational results” from a democratic and emancipatory-political perspective.




BENSON, Rodney, “Shaping the Public Sphere: Habermas and Beyond”, Springer, Science-Business Media, LLC, 2009, pp. 175-197.

CALHOUN, Craig, “The Democratic integration of Europe. Interests, identity, and the public sphere”, Eurozine, 2004−06−21, (First published in Social Science Research Council).

CALHOUN, Craig, “The Virtue of Inconsistency: Ideality and Plurality in the Conceptualization of Europe”, in Lars-Erik CEDERMAN (ed.), Constructing Europe’s Identity. The External Dimension, Lynne Rienner Publishers, Boulden & London, 2001, pp. 35-56.

CASTLES, Stephen, “Democracy and Multiculturalism in Western Europe”, in Leslie HOLMES and Philomena MURRAY (eds.), Citizenship and Identity in Europe, Ashgate, Aldeshot-Brookfoeld USA, Singapore, Sydney, 1999, pp. 55-73.

ERIKSEN, Erik Oddvar, “An Emerging European Public Sphere”, European Journal of Social Theory, Vol. 8, No. 3, 2005, pp. 341-363.

ERIKSEN, Erik O., Conceptualizing European public spheres: General, Segmented and Strong Publics, ARENA Working Paper, Centre for European Studies, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway, 2004.

FOSSUM, John Erik, and Philip SCHLESINGER, “The European Union and the public sphere: a communicative space in the making?”, in John Erik FOSSUM, Philip R. SCHLESINGER (eds.), The European Union and the Public Sphere. A Communicative Space in the Making?, Routledge. Taylor & Francis Group, London and New York, 2007, pp. 1-21.

FRASER, Nancy, “Transnationalizing the Public Sphere. On the Legitimacy and Efficacy of Public Opinion in a Post-Westphalian World”, Europäisches Institut für progressive Kulturpolitik, › transversalpublicum, 03/2007.

HABERMAS, Jürgen, “Concluding Comments on Empirical Approaches to Deliberative Politics”, Acta Politica. International Journal of Political Science, Vol. 40, No. 3, 2005, pp. 384-392.

HABERMAS, Jürgen, Sfera publică şi transformarea ei structurală. Studiu asupra unei categorii a societăţii burgheze (1962), translated by Janina IANOŞI, second revised edition,, Bucureşti, 2005.

HABERMAS, Jürgen, Jacques DERRIDA, “February 15, or What binds Europeans: A Plea for a Common Foreign Policy, Beginning in the Core of Europe”, Constellations Volume, No. 3, 2003, pp. 291-297.

HABERMAS, Jürgen, “Reply to Grimm”, in Peter GOWAN and Peter ANDERSON (eds.), The Question of Europe, Verso, London, 1997, pp. 259-265.

HABERMAS, Jürgen, Between Facts and Norms. Contributions to a Discourse Theory of Law and Democracy, translated by William REHG, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1996.

HABERMAS, Jürgen, “Struggles for Recognition in the Democratic Constitutional State”, in Charles TAYLOR [et al]., Amy GUTMANN (ed. and introd.), Multiculturalism: Examining the Politics of Recognition, expanded edition, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New York, 1994, pp. 107-149.

HABERMAS, Jürgen, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society, translated by Thomas Burger with the assistance of Frederick Lawrence, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1989.

KELLNER, Douglas, “Habermas, the Public Sphere, and Democracy: A Critical Intervention”, http://www. gseis.ucla. edu/faculty/kellner/kellner.html

LORD, Christopher, “Legitimacy, Democracy and the EU: when abstract questions become practical policy problems”, Policy Paper, 03/2000, pp. 1-28.

LUBENOW, Jorge Adriano, “Public Sphere and Deliberative Democracy in Jürgen Habermas: Theoretical Model and Critical Discourses”, American Journal of Sociological Research, Vol. 2, No. 4, 2012, pp. 58-71.


[i] A version of this examination was published as part of the study “Sfera publică şi sfera publică europeană. Consideraţii asupra modelului normativ”, in Gheorghe CIASCAI, Gabriela TĂNĂSESCU (eds.), Spațiul public european. Idei, instituții, politici, Editura Institutului de Științe Politice și Relații Internaționale, București, 2014, pp. 38-72.

[ii] Rodney BENSON, “Shaping the Public Sphere: Habermas and Beyond”, Springer, Science-Business Media, LLC 2009, p. 177.

[iii] The public sphere, in fact a viable public sphere”, is considered to be the central precondition of a democratic order both in the case of the national state and in that of the European Union. See John Erik FOSSUM and Philip SCHLESINGER, “The Europena Union and the public sphere: a communicative space in the making?”, in by John Erik FOSSUM and Philip R. SCHLESINGER (eds.), The Europena Union and the Public Sphere. A Communicative Space in the Making?, Routledge, New York, 2007, p. 1.

[iv] After the English language publication of Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit as The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere in 1989.

[v] Cf. Nancy FRASER, “Transnationalizing the Public Sphere. On the Legitimacy and Efficacy of Public Opinion in a Post-Westphalian World”, Europäisches Institut für progressive Kulturpolitik, › transversalpublicum, 03/2007.

[vi] Habermas aimed not the social formation but the “ideological template” of whose “continuity over the centuries” is appreciated as belonging to “the level of intelectual history”.

[vii] Jürgen HABERMAS, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society, translated by Thomas Burger with the assistance of Frederick Lawrence, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1989, p. 4.

[viii] Ibidem.

[ix] Built “as the corollary of a depersonalized state authority” by the transition of the activities and dependencies from the framework of the household economy in the public sphere, the privatization of the process of economic reproduction, the “public” and commercial affirmation of this process, its placement under the public direction and supervision and its transformation in a domain of general interest. Ibidem, pp. 19-20.

[x] Ibidem, p. 27.

[xi] Ibidem, p. 29.

[xii] Ibidem, pp. 33-34.

[xiii] Ibidem, p. 51.

[xiv] Ibidem, p. 52.

[xv] Ibidem, p. 53.

[xvi] Ibidem, p. 83.

[xvii] Ibidem, p. 144.

[xviii] Ibidem, p. 142.

[xix] Ibidem, p. 149.

[xx] Ibidem, p. 150.

[xxi] Ibidem, p. 152.

[xxii] Ibidem, p. 161.

[xxiii] See ibidem, pp. 163.

[xxiv] Ibidem, p. 172.

[xxv] Douglas KELLNER, “Habermas, the Public Sphere, and Democracy: A Critical Intervention”, /kellner/kellner.html.

[xxvi] Jürgen HABERMAS, The Structural Transformation… cit., p. 176.

[xxvii] Ibidem.

[xxviii] Ibidem, p. 178.

[xxix] Idem, Sfera publică şi transformarea ei structurală. Studiu asupra unei categorii a societăţii burgheze, translated by Janina IANOŞI, second revised edition,, Bucureşti, 2005, p. 15, p. 44.

[xxx] Ibidem, p. 27.

[xxxi] Ibidem, p. 30.

[xxxii] The concept of Lebenswelt, translated in English as lifeworld, has been used by Habermas in the social theory grounded on communication in order to designate the “lived” sphere of meanings and informal understandings, socially and culturally grounded, namely, in terms of “cognitiv horizon”, “the background” of the environment of competences, practices and attitudes in which the individual lives. In Faktizität und Geltung Habermas specified “We have become acquainted with the ʻlifeworldʼ as a reservoir for simple interactions” which can be specialized in systems of action and knowledge. A category of specialized systems like religion, education, and the family – are associated with general reproductive functions of the lifeworld (that is, with cultural reproduction, social integration, or socialization), another category of systemslike science, morality, and arttake up different validity aspects of everyday communicative action (truth, rightness, or veracity), basically its content. In Habermasʼ logic contained in Faktizität und Geltung, the communicative power of the public sphere “depends on lifeworld sources” and, articulated so, can realize “the connection” with the politics. In a “more precisely” expression, that from the lifeworld emerges the civil society whose internal dynamic transpose itself in public processes of communication.” See Jürgen HABERMAS, Between Facts and Norms. Contributions to a Discourse Theory of Law and Democracy, translated by William REHG, Cambridge, Massachusetts, The MIT Press,1996, p. 360, p. 385, p. 375.

[xxxiii] Jürgen HABERMAS, Sfera publică şi transformarea ei structurală, ed. cit., p. 33.

[xxxiv] Or “to protect the communicative spheres of the lifeworld from encroachment by the forces of instrumental rationality and action and the imperatives of money and power, preserving a sphere of humanity, communication, morality, and value in the practices of everyday life.” Douglas KELLNER, “Habermas, the Public Sphere, and Democracy: A Critical Intervention”, http://www.gseis.ucla. edu/faculty/kellner/kellner.html, p. 13].

[xxxv] Jürgen HABERMAS, Sfera publică şi transformarea ei structurală, ed. cit., p. 35.

[xxxvi] Jürgen HABERMAS, Between Facts and Norms, ed. cit, p. 288.

[xxxvii] Habermas' theory on the deliberative politics from Faktizität und Geltung has inspired numerous debates, the most positions formulated in the literature devoted to the deliberative democracy being subsequent Habermasʼ work since 1992. See in this regard Jorge Adriano LUBENOW, “Public Sphere and Deliberative Democracy in Jürgen Habermas: Theorethical Model and Critical Discourses”, American Journal of Sociological Research, Vol. 2, No. 4, 2012, p. 68, notes 12, 15, 16.

[xxxviii] Ibidem, p. 298.

[xxxix] Following Bernard Peters's model in order to explain “how a constitutionally regulated circulation of power might be established”, Habermas refered to the processes of communication and decision making in constitutional systems by means of three features: axial configuration center-periphery, structuration by a system of sluices,” and involvement of two modes of problem solving. The inner periphery of the administration or political system (the edges of the administration”) develops out of various institutions equipped with rights of self-governance or with other kinds of oversight and lawmaking functions delegated by the state (universities, public insurance systems, professional agencies and associations, charitable organizations, foundations, etc.).” The outer periphery in relation to “the core area” of the system branches into customers” and suppliers,” the former being those who bargaining the of clientele (“complex networks have arisen among public agencies and private organizations, business associations, labor unions, interest groups, and so on”– networks that fulfill certain coordination functions inmore or less opaque social sectors), the others being those who “give voice to social problems, make broad demands, articulate public interests or needs, and thus attempt to influence the political process more from normative points of view than from the standpoint of particular interests”. Jürgen HABERMAS, Between Facts and Norms, ed. cit., pp. 354-355.

[xl] Whose “core area” is formed by the familiar institutional complexes of administration (including the incumbent Government), judicial system, and democratic opinion- and will-formation (which includes parliamentary bodies, political elections, and party competition). This core”, organized as a polyarchy”, distinguishes itself from the periphery in virtue of formal decision-making powers and actual prerogatives, the capacity to act” in its interior being determinated by the ʻdensityʼ of organizational complexity”. Ibidem, p. 355.

[xli]The core private spheres”, characterized by intimacy and hence by protection from publicity”, constitute the lifeworld, that one which structure the encounters between relatives, friends, acquaintances, and so on, and link together the members' life histories at the level of face-to-face interactions.” Ibidem, p. 354.

[xlii] Ibidem.

[xliii] See in this respect Jorge Adriano LUBENOW, “Public Sphere…”cit., p. 61sq.

[xliv] Habermas even more suggestively formulates: “the public sphere is a warning system with sensors that, though unspecialized, are sensitive throughout society.” Jürgen HABERMAS, Between Facts and Norms, ed. cit, p. 359.

[xlv] Ibidem.

[xlvi] See in this regard Douglas KELLNER, “Habermas, the Public...cit., p. 15.

[xlvii] See Jorge Adriano LUBENOW, “Public Sphere…”cit., p. 67.

[xlviii] Habermas wrote a series of books and articles on these themes: Die Zukunft der Menschlichen Natur (2001), Glauben und Wissen (2001), Zeitdiagnosen: Zwölf Essays (2003), Der Gespaltene Westen (2004), Zwischen Naturalismus und Religion (2005), Dialektik der Säkularisierung. Über Vernunft und Religion (2005).

[xlix] Jorge Adriano LUBENOW, “Public Sphere…”cit., p. 68.

[l] Of which the reference became: “Citizenship and National Identity: Some Reflections on the Future of Europe”, Praxis International 12, 1, 1992, published also in Bart van STEENBERGEN (ed.), The Condition of Citizenship, SAGE, London, 1994; “Die Festung Europa und das neue Deutschland”, Die Zeit, Hamburg, 28 May 1993, which formed the basis of the study “Struggels for Recognition in the Democratic Constitutional State”, in Amy GUTMANN (ed.), Multiculturalism: Examining the “Politics of Recognition”, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New York, 1994; Die Einbeziehung des Anderen: Studien zur politischen Theorie, Suhrkamp, Frankfurt, 1996; Between Facts and Norms, MIT Press, Cambridge, 1996; “Reply to Grimm”, in Peter GOWAN and Peter ANDERSON (eds.), The Question of Europe, Verso, London, 1997; Die postnationale Konstellation: Politische Essays, Suhrkamp, Frankfurt, 1998; “A political Constitution for pluralist World Society?” (2005).

[li] See in this regard Erik Oddvar ERIKSEN, “An Emerging European Public Sphere”, European Journal of Social Theory, Vol. 8, No 3, 2005, p. 342.

[lii] Jürgen HABERMAS, “Die Festung Europa und das neue Deutschland”, Die Zeit, 28 May 1993, apud. Stephen CASTLES, Democracy and Multiculturalism in Western Europe”, in Leslie HOLMES and Philomena MURRAY (eds.), Citizenship and Identity in Europe, Ashgate, Aldeshot-Brookfoeld USA; Singapore, Sydney; 1999, p. 11.

[liii] Cf. idem, ”Reply to Grimm”, in Peter GOWAN and Peter ANDERSON (eds.), The Question of Europe, Verso, ,London, 1997.

[liv] Idem, “Struggels for Recognition in the Democratic Constitutional State”, in Amy GUTMANN (ed.), Multiculturalism: Examining the „Politics of Recognition“, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New York, 1994, p. 139.

[lv] Craig CALHOUN, ”The Virtue of Inconsistency: Ideality and Plurality in the Conceptualization of Europe”, in Lars-Erik CEDERMAN (ed.), Constructing Europe’s Identity. The External Dimension, Lynne Rienner Publishers, Boulden & London, 2001, p. 44.

[lvi] Erik Oddvar ERIKSEN, “An Emerging European…cit., p. 357.

[lvii] “February 15, or What binds Europeans: A Plea for a Common Foreign Policy, Beginning in the Core of Europe”, assumed also by Jacques Derrida, circulated before publication among several renowned intellectuals such: Umberto Eco, Adolf Muschg, Gianni Vattimo, Richard Rorty şi Fernando Savater. On 31 May 2003, the same day in which the manifesto was published simultaneously in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and Liberation, these authors published in response own articles in the top press in France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland and thus have contributed to the onset of a broad debate about the meaning of Europe, the differences between the European values and the American values and traditions, in which took part intellectuals from all over Europe, including several from Eastern Europe and from Uited States (among them Péter Esterházy, Aldo Keel, Karl Otto Hondrich, Dieter Grimm, Timothy Garton Ash, Ralf Dahrendorf, Iris Marion Young, Ulrich K. Preuss, Susan Sontag). Habermas considered the simultaneity of mass demonstrations in 15 February 2003 “the largest since the end of the Second World War” – in London, Rome, Madrid, Barcelona, Berlin and Paris, in response to attack Iraq as Londra, Roma, Madrid, Barcelona, Berlin şi Paris, ca reacţie la atacarea Irakului London, Rome, Madrid, Barcelona, Berlin and Paris, in reaction to the attacking of Iraq, “as a sign of the birth of a European public sphare”. See the manifesto in Constellations Volume, No. 3, 2003 [pp. 291-297], p. 291. Author's thesis is thatʻthe old Europeʼ sees itself challenged by the blunt hegemonic politics of its ally”, by “the illegality of unilateral, pre-emptive, and deceptively justified invasion.” The commentators of the opportunity of the manifesto assumed by Habermas and Derrida point out that the U.S. Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld engaged “the new Europe”, i.e. those Eastern European countries applying for the admission to the EU, against less supportive “old Europe”, France, Germany, Belgium, which attracted the reaction against the “enclosing” of “the heart of Europe”, i.e. France and Germany, in a “Small Europe.” As such, the manifesto called attention not only on the need for Europe of assuming of new political responsibilities beyond any Europecentrism, but also on “the renewed confirmation and effective transformation of the international law and its institutions”, on the affirmation of a new conception and a new praxis of the distribution of the state authority in the spirit of Kantian tradition.

[lviii] Jürgen HABERMAS, Jacques DERRIDA, “February 15, or What binds Europeans”, loc. cit., p. 293.

[lix] Ibidem, p. 296.

[lx] Ibidem, p. 297.

[lxi] John Erik FOSSUM and Philip SCHLESINGER, op. cit., p. 2.

[lxii] Erik O. ERIKSEN, Conceptualizing European public spheres: General, Segmented and Strong Publics, ARENA Working Paper, Centre for European Studies, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway, 2004, p. 6.

[lxiii] Douglas KELLNER, “Habermas, the Public…cit., p. 1.

[lxiv] See Erik O. ERIKSEN, Conceptualizing European public… cit., p. 4sqq.

[lxv] See in this regard Erik Oddvar ERIKSEN, “An Emerging European…cit., p. 342sq.