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Publics are produced by the circulation of discourse. Politics, in a digital age, is in part shaped by the expansive production of discourse, in and through emergent and contingent public formations. This has the benefit of broadening the range of ‘voices’ and actors in public circulation, though this by no means fundamentally re-shapes communicative power relations. At the same time, the dramatic increase in the extent and intensity of media content raises questions for the categories and concepts used to conceptualise ‘the public’, and publics.
The aim of this module is to examine the significance of digital media in the shaping of publics and public contestation, with a thematic focus on the politics of multiculturalism, racism, gender and class in contemporary societies. Building on key foundational, normative ideas of the public it will cover key conceptual discussions of political publics (such as ‘counter-publics’, ‘subaltern publics’, ‘anti-publics’) in relation to more recent theorisations of mediated publics (such as ‘networked publics’, ‘public horizons’, ‘ad hoc publics’, ‘eventisation’, ‘algorithmic publics’).