Blog 7: Habermas and Castells

The Public Sphere is declining, “If we are to believe what sociologists are telling us, the public sphere is in a near terminal state.” (Johnson, 2006) Habermas defined the Public Sphere as both the public and the state working together and communicating with each other. A democratic society is a good example of a public sphere because the public are able to have a say in what they what. People with similar and different ideas are able to come together and talk about what they want. The Public Sphere is “a willingness to engage with the particular issues thrown up by contemporary politics is, for Habermas, a central responsibility of the critical theorist.” (Johnson, 2006) Meaning it is good to engage with each other about different issues.

“An” Understanding of Habermas and the Public Sphere

Castells defined a network society a little differently, he defines it as more of an online way of communicating instead of in person. “Castells defines ‘network’ explicitly as a set of interconnected nodes of which he mentions such examples as stock exchange markets and their ancillary centers of advanced financial services in the network of global financial flows.” (Anttiroiko, 2015) Nodes are important and are connected to each other in different ways.



This is a good image that shows how public opinion can be influenced by media.

Having a network society can be both a good thing and a bad thing. While online communication can be good, it also takes away from in person relationships. It is also a problem when some people may not have internet, so it hasn’t really improved their lives any. When it comes to education, we have seen over the years that learning has focused more on technology. Today, kids take laptops with them to class to take notes on, whereas before that wasn’t an option. Also, in health care, a patient’s health file used to be stored with lots of other files, but we are seeing more and more that even with health care, those files are now online. Technology is always changing and everywhere we look, there are always new advances when it comes to technology.

Anttiroiko, A. (2015, July 15). Networks in Manuel Castells’ theory of the network society. Retrieved from

Johnson, P. (2006). Habermas: Rescuing the Public Sphere. London: Routledge. Retrieved from,url,cookie,uid&db=nlebk&AN=157805&site=ehost-live&scope=site

Blog 6: Research plan

When doing my research, I am trying to look at a person’s social ties on Facebook. I will be doing more of an observation data collection as I am looking at a Facebook post that has already been made, and the responses that person got on it. I am going to look at one friend I have on Facebook who made a post about being 1,000 days sober. On that one post, he has 174 likes and 56 comments.

I would like to look at whether those responses are positive, neutral, or negative. I would not expect negative reactions, but that is how I will measure the data I collect. A positive response would be a message of encouragement, a neutral response would be more of just an emoji and not saying anything, and a negative response would be a negative comment. Making sure that I keep their names confidential, I will assign each of the edges an ID number, instead of using their name.

When collecting the data, I will go through each individual comment and see what the response was. If someone commented more than once, I will include that. I will also look to see if the original node (my friend) commented back to any people who responded to him. This would determine if they are undirected, or directed. If he responded back, then it would be undirected because the ordering wouldn’t matter. If it was directed, then the order is more important because just because someone responded, doesn’t mean they got a response back. The degree of  the original node would be how many people commented to him. The in degree is how many people responded to the original post, and the out degree is if he commented back.

This is more of an ego network. An “ego has a tie to every alter, but not all alters need to be tied directly to each other.”(Robins, 2015) Just because he knows the edges, doesn’t mean they will necessarily all know each other. I will look at this also. I will look at who commented and see if they have any interaction with the other edges. This would determine if they are friends of friends or if they just know the original node.

With regards to Facebook, this is how our relationships to others usually works. We have many friends on our friend list, but only some are real friends where we have interactions with regularly.






Smith, M. (2009, March 30). Social Networks in the News at NYT › Social Media Research Foundation. Retrieved from

I am trying to look at:

Did any other edges respond to each other?

Did females or males respond more or was it the same?

Do people always respond in positive ways?

Do any edges have the same friends?

Did the original node comment or like the response comment?

Did anyone respond more than once?

In the article that I found, they were also looking at an ego network. They were looking at a social media network of Nonprofit sports organizations, they were looking at relationships between different users. This way they could look at centralized actors and see if they needed to change any of their social media strategies. “An ego network consists of a focal actor or ego and immediate contacts or alters and all ties between the ego and its alters, as well as between alters.”(Naraine & Parent, 2016) This is exactly what I am looking at with my research. I have one focal actor and I will look at the ties between the focal actor and the alters. While my research will be similar to what they did in their experiment, to build on this for my research, I am using one individual and looking at the edges that connect to them. I am not focusing on organizations, but individual people.

Naraine, M. L., & Parent, M. M. (2016). Illuminating Centralized Users in the Social Media Ego Network of Two National Sport Organizations. Journal of Sport Management, 30(6), 689-701. doi:10.1123/jsm.2016-0067

Robins, G. (2015). Doing social network research: Network-based research design for social scientists. Los Angeles: Sage Publications

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