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Published March 4, 2024 | Version v1
Working paper Open

The post-public sphere and neo-regulation of digital platforms

  • 1. ROR icon University of Glasgow


This article discusses the post-public sphere and the regulation of platforms that have had disruptive effects on democracy. Platformisation means that the normative ideals for a political public sphere set out by Jürgen Habermas face a distinctive challenge. “Neo-regulation” is an evolving adaption by states that reflects the urgent need to address platformisation and digitalisation more generally. In conditions of geopolitical competition, notably between the China and US, attempts by various states and the EU to establish a neo-regulatory order has developed a significant national security dimension, which is highly relevant for the regulation of digital communication. Policing borders and content is an ever-present focus in all political regimes, whether characterised as democratic or authoritarian. Applying Pierre Bourdieu’s field theory to internet regulation, the argument is illustrated by reference to current British regulatory practice. At the level of the state, the “regulatory field” is shaped by national and global forces. Although the British case has specific characteristics, the underlying analysis has general relevance for comparative research.



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