Social Structures of the Public Sphere
The bourgeois public sphere was the sphere of private people who have come together as a public. It claimed the public sphere against public authorities, and engaged in debate over general rules in a privatized but public sphere of commodity exchange and social labor. The medium of this political confrontation was the public use of reason. Traditionally, power was balanced and regulated between the estates and the prince, or through a parliamentary system. This division was not possible in a commercial economy because control over private property was apolitical. The bourgeois did not rule. Their claims to power undercut existing rule. Public understanding of the public use of reason grew out of the subjectivity of the conjugal family's domestic life, the traditional source of privacy. Commodity exchange burst out of the family domain and the conjugal family was separated from the sphere of social reproduction. The polarization of state and society was repeated within society itself. A private man was head of a family and the owner of commodities; he was both property owner and human being.
The subjectivity of the conjugal family created its own public before the public assumed political functions. A precursor of the public sphere operating in the public domain emerged. It acted as a training ground for critical public reflection. The public sphere in the world of letters was similar to representative publicity; the court was an important influence. Towns were also important. Institutions such as salons and coffee houses shaped the literary public sphere. The literary public sphere was a bridge between representative and bourgeois public spheres. The state-society divide separated the public sphere from the private realm. The public sphere contained the state and court; the private sphere contained civil society as the realm of commodity exchange, and the family. The public sphere in the political realm...