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Outline of a Marxist Commodity Theory of the Public Sphere

In: Historical Materialism
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In recent years, the public sphere, which represents a realm in civil society where people can debate and discuss a range of issues and common concerns important to them, has become a key area for research in the humanities and social sciences. Arguably, however, Marxist theory has yet to advance a theoretical account of the most abstract and simple ideological properties of the capitalist public sphere as these appear under universal commodity relationships. The paper therefore tentatively seeks to develop such an account. Specifically, the paper theoretically derives a peculiar public sphere under capitalism, which is mediated between at least two commodity owners who also possess distinctive personalities driven by desires to own commodities. The paper then explains in more detail how the social form of this public sphere develops through other elements of commodity relations and their contradictions.

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