The Fourth Estate: The construction and place of silence in the public sphere

Philosophy and Social Criticism 44 (10):1071-1089 (2018)
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Abstract

The main narratives of prevailing ideas of the Fourth Estate were articulated in the era of traditional mass media, and these traditional narratives are challenged by the changing media landscapes. This raises the question whether traditional narratives of the Fourth Estate should be maintained. We will argue – through a close reading of Derrida’s reflections on the relationship between communicative significance and silence, combined with a deliberative ideal for democracy – that the new structures of communication call for a Fourth Estate that focuses on creating spaces for flexible structures of silence in the public sphere. The Fourth Estate has an obvious assignment of counteracting problematic structures of silence. In this article, we will, however, bring out assignments of creating spaces of silence in the public sphere: by silencing certain dominant voices, making room for an increased lack of answers and creating an awareness of the insufficiencies of the public spheres.

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