This is Jürgen Habermas's most concrete historical-sociological book and one of the key contributions to political thought in the postwar period. It will be a revelation to those who have known Habermas only through his theoretical writing to find his later interests in problems of legitimation and communication foreshadowed in this lucid study of the origins, nature, and evolution of public opinion in democratic societies.
About the Author
Jürgen Habermas is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Frankfurt and Professor of Philosophy at Northwestern University. He was recently awarded the 2004 Kyoto Prize for Arts and Philosophy by the Inamori Foundation. The Kyoto Prize is an international award to honor those who have contributed significantly to the scientific, cultural, and spiritual betterment of mankind.
“The most significant modern work on its subject...Habermas offers perhaps the richest, best developed conceptualization available of the social nature and foundations of public life. As scholars set out to make sense of the growing wealth of empirical research on the topics related to this theme, this book will form an indispensable point of theoretical departure...We should be grateful that it has finally appeared in English.”—Craig J. Calhoun, Contemporary Sociology
“Why is this such a vital study? Its significance rests in its analysis of one of the central notions on which both our political life and our political theories rests: 'public opinion.' Presidential candidates worry about it, the press talks about it, political scientists try to measure it, but Habermas is one of the few people to have actually sat down and tried to think about it to ask what it means to have an opinion that is not private, not idiosyncratic, but rather 'public.'”
—James Schmidt, Boston University