Democracy and the demise of «the public». Mistrust, fragmentation, polarisation: towards a bubble democracy?

Damiano Palano


This essay argues that the success of «post-truth» is partially connected to the characteristics of the new «hybrid» communication scenario. The author maintains that the current context differs substantially from the democracy of parties, which has characterised a part of the 20th century, as well as from the democracy of the public, a notion formulated by Bernard Manin in the mid-1990s. As a matter of fact, the diffusion of the new media has triggered the fragmentation of the public into a plurality of self-referential segments and «bubbles» which are (potentially) not rooted in an intersubjective sphere of communication. Considering the impact of these transformations, the essay proposes the image of a bubble democracy as an alternative to the mainstream interpretations both of the democracy of parties and of the democracy of the public and it argues that its main features are the widespread mistrust towards institutions, audience fragmentation and polarisation.



democracy of the public; new media; mistrust; bubble democracy

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DOI: 10.6092/issn.1974-4935/9413


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ISSN 1974-4935
Governare la Paura University of Bologna
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