Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Public Opinion Postmodernism and Cyberspace

Tirza T. Hechter.

The concept of “public opinion” has roots in ancient political theory and those roots continue to affect its senses today; in particular, the tension between public as something that all the people are involved in (the social-political sense) and public as something openly visible or known to all the people (the visual-intellectual sense) is still central to our conception of the term. Recent debates about public opinion and democratic theory turn precisely on this issue: should the public participate in civic life actively, or is it enough that they have access to news and information in the media? This paper focuses on a specific question concerning public opinion as a social-political action, i.e., how can the “public” participate when the media seem the sole providers of public space?
A wide spectrum of conceptual perspectives found in the literature on advanced communication technologies, allowed the present paper: (a) to review contemporary (i.e., modern) and postmodern approaches to on-line communication, and to show in what ways do postmodern conceptualizations differ from contemporary notions on “public opinion;” (b) to show the relevancy of postmodern notions of on-line “rhetorical spaces” and “empowerment” to the purposes of this article; (c) to elaborate on the postmodern notion of “subjectivity,” and the emergence of a political public, and most important, (d) to show how postmodern notions of the cybernetic “rhetorical space” challenge contemporary concepts of “tensions” in “public opinion.”


Tirza T. Hechter  (Israel)
Lecturer in Mass Communication
The Department of Political Science and Mass Communication Faculty of Social Science
Zfat Regional College and Bar Ilan University

Tirza Hechter is an Associate Lecturer in the Department of Political Science in Zfat Regional College/Bar Ilan University and a Member of the Israel Communication Association and the History of Social and Political Concepts International Society

  • Public opinion
  • Postmodernism
  • Cyberspace
  • Subjectivity
  • Public Space

(Virtual Presentation, English)