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The Caring Public Sphere: Reframing the Concept in an Era of Care Crises

A Research Paper by Anastasia Kavada, published by Journal of the European Institute for Communication and Culture

This article reframes the public sphere concept by bringing it dialogue with feminist theories of care. Care ethics foreground vulnerability and interdependence, suggesting that vulnerability is a shared condition and that we are all dependent on each other in order to survive. This helps to rethink the role of the public sphere within the democratic system, as a space not only for opinion formation, but also for the development of citizens with the necessary skills and dispositions to take care of the issues discussed in public. A focus on care also aids in reconsidering public affairs as issues that are intimately connected with needs and vulnerabilities; listening as an act of care; the processing of emotions as a key function of the deliberative process; and personal testimony as an important type of argumentation. The concept of care further helps in refining the universal access principle by highlighting the importance of intimate spaces, where participants feel safe to be vulnerable, and of how these multiple publics can be interconnected through mobilising relationships of interdependence. Finally, it allows us to consider “care work” for communication infrastructure, including both media technologies and people’s bodies, as a constitutive part of the public sphere.

Photo by Lina Trochez on Unsplash

Anastasia Kavada


Anastasia Kavada is a Reader in the School of Media and Communication at the University of Westminster. She is Co-Leader of the Arts, Communication and Culture Research Community (ACC), and Co-leader of the MA in Media, Campaigning and Social Change. Her research focuses on the links between online tools and decentralized organising practices, democratic decision-making, and the development of solidarity among participants in collective action. Her work has appeared in a variety of edited books and academic journals, including Media, Culture & Society and Information, Communication & Society. She is currently working on a monograph with the provisional title ‘Experiments in Democracy: Digital Communication and Social Movements’.


18 April 2024
Published By
Journal of the European Institute for Communication and Culture
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