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A sphere askew: operations, territory and the public in the digital age

A sphere askew: operations, territory and the public in the digital age The public is often associated with a spatial entity: the sphere. Recent technical developments, however, raise questions about the applicability of the sphere as a concept in social, political or economic studies. This paper aims to discuss two different intuitions related to spheres regarding operational and territorial attributes. It identifies a growing discrepancy between these intuitions as a result of the spread of digital technology in society. The notion of the sphere must therefore be used more carefully in the future.Design/methodology/approachThe paper takes a conceptual approach based on constructs developed by Habermas for the analysis of the bourgeois public. The resulting twofold model is validated on the background of current research in organisational science and general considerations about the effect of digital technology on society.FindingsThe paper identifies an increasing inconsistency in the conceptions of social spheres, which implies that accustomed spatial concepts cannot further be used as before in this context. Exemplary evidence about this divergence is gathered from extant work in the field.Originality/valueWhile a lot has already been said about social dynamics in the digital age, their consequences for the applicability of the sphere as a spatial concept have not yet been properly addressed. The paper identifies a fundamental problem in the discourse on social spheres in the digital age that challenges the internal consistency of the concept, independently from any further epistemological or ontological considerations. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Kybernetes Emerald Publishing

A sphere askew: operations, territory and the public in the digital age

Kybernetes , Volume 50 (4): 13 – May 4, 2021

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References (33)

Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
© Emerald Publishing Limited
ISSN
0368-492X
eISSN
0368-492X
DOI
10.1108/k-07-2020-0415
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The public is often associated with a spatial entity: the sphere. Recent technical developments, however, raise questions about the applicability of the sphere as a concept in social, political or economic studies. This paper aims to discuss two different intuitions related to spheres regarding operational and territorial attributes. It identifies a growing discrepancy between these intuitions as a result of the spread of digital technology in society. The notion of the sphere must therefore be used more carefully in the future.Design/methodology/approachThe paper takes a conceptual approach based on constructs developed by Habermas for the analysis of the bourgeois public. The resulting twofold model is validated on the background of current research in organisational science and general considerations about the effect of digital technology on society.FindingsThe paper identifies an increasing inconsistency in the conceptions of social spheres, which implies that accustomed spatial concepts cannot further be used as before in this context. Exemplary evidence about this divergence is gathered from extant work in the field.Originality/valueWhile a lot has already been said about social dynamics in the digital age, their consequences for the applicability of the sphere as a spatial concept have not yet been properly addressed. The paper identifies a fundamental problem in the discourse on social spheres in the digital age that challenges the internal consistency of the concept, independently from any further epistemological or ontological considerations.

Journal

KybernetesEmerald Publishing

Published: May 4, 2021

Keywords: Privacy; Social change; Digital transformation; Public sphere; Habermas; Spatial turn

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