Print, Even the new, bourgeois public sphere

Print, Parades, Spheres of all sortsSo many definitions are there of the public sphere. One canrange from a scale as small as a township to a scale as large as anational government. In the earlier post-revolutionary days of theUnited States, just what the United States actually was and what itmeant were still being defined. Now that the revolution was over,words such as nationalism and patriotism must be redefined. Manypoliticians, political groups, and the general public all desired to havea say in what they believed to be the true nature of this newly formedcountry.

The best way to do this, of course, is in a public formatwhere people could listen to the opinions of others, or retort and giveopinions of their own. Parades or processions were an effective wayof a public showing of opinion; they were highly publicized and veryvisible. Now, however, they were newer, more advanced ways thatones ideas could get around to many more people than before. Theprinting press was perhaps the greatest manner in which ideasspread. Events such as the aforementioned parades or processionscould now be reported on, as could public debates between candidatesstanding for office, social dinners and the toasts which were proposed,pamphlets could be printed, and an abundance of other socialhappenings. The question of exactly how these parades and printculture affect Americans views of nationalism yet remains. However,what is for certain is that these two aspects of early,post-revolutionary America greatly advanced the bringing forth ofpolitical ideas into the public sphere.What print actually accomplished was the spreading of ideas toa greater number of people.

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This was also quite a benefit because theamount of people who were taking interest in political issues wasgrowing as well. Now, politics was not an issue to be delt with solelyby the upper-class. David Waldstreicher in writing about the effectthat print had on public celebrations, such as parades, states Through the new media of journalism, urban festivalreached an expanding audience. . . Even the new, bourgeoispublic sphere can be seen as a locus for relating and debatingthe deeds of a politically active populace (20).

Everybody was getting involved. While these people debated the newmeaning of nationalism, among other issues, just the fact that moreand more people were partaking in these events was part of that newAt a first glance, it may be difficult to see the importance of aparade or other sort of celebration in political terms. However, theywere a phenomenal way to express a political idea, to try to get otherpeople to jump on ones political bandwagon, or most importantly, toincite political action. Waldstreicher writes .

..celebration, which mayappear to us distanced, second-hand and unconnected to real life orpolitics, seemed at the time to open up a greater sphere of action formore and more citizens(111) Action is the key word in that sentence. If a certain parade or any other kind of celebration draws forth aparticular political desire in an on-looker, then the parade has fulfilledits purpose. The public display of any kind of political sentiment thatperhaps causes people to affiliate themselves with a certain politicalgroup creates a healthy, nationalistic country. Nationalism doesntnecessarily mean the agreement of all people, but that people areactively participating, in some form, in the political arena.

This isessentially the role that parades and the like have in the formation ofearly American nationalism; they got more people involved in politics. It seems that parades and print seem to complement each otherin the most useful of ways. Before print, it is imaginable that it wouldbe very difficult for citizens to know of any kind of celebration thathappened elsewhere. With print, information that was taken down bysomeone who was actually present can be distributed. People couldread about what went on in a certain celebration. Now people did notneed to be physically present to witness the events, or moreimportantly, be influenced by political ideas; the parades affectedmore people than just the spectators. If more information is availableto the general public, they will no doubt be more informed about whatis going on in their country.

This also further develops goodnationalism. Before print, it is likely that people made politicalchoices while not knowing all the facts or happenings; people can nowmake more accurate political choices, mainly when it comes to votingPrint could also have a very dramatic affect on parades andcelebrations. The majority of citizens learned about thesecelebrations through the information printed by newspapers. Waldstreicher states From the beginning, celebrants of the nationtook their cues from printed sources. This means that people reliedentirely on the reporters interpretation of the event. After witnessingand event, if one asked ten people about what happened at the event(i.

e. rituals, ambiance), that person would get ten different stories. When citizens are only reading one rendition of that story by theirlocal reporter, it could be very well different than that of the nexttown over (i.e. the event could be celebrated in a different way,different rituals might take place, etc.

) Hence, the celebrationsthemselves will slowly evolve over time. As mentioned before, manycelebrations, parades, processions, etc. helped to shape peoplespolitical ideas and affiliations. So as these celebrations slowly evolve,so could peoples political thoughts and ideas as new generationscame through.

It seems that there is a chain reaction taking placehere, one that stems from the fact that the parades, print,nationalism, and the public sphere are all inter-related and greatlyHow nationalism evolved over time is clearly a direct result ofthe media in the form of print, and public celebrations. It is these twothings that widen the public sphere. Everything was now reported on. People could now know what exactly went on at an election or whowas present, what was going on politically in different parts of thecountry not just their own, or what was said at a toast.

The rise ofprint culture came at a time when the country truly needed it, at itsbirth. Since the country was still in its infant stages, everything wasjust being formed such as policy, laws, and governmental structure. These are things that a citizen of a newly formed country needs to beaware and well informed of and print helped make that possible. However, it was only made possible because everything thathappened was now done is public. The subject of this very paper iscontesting for the public sphere.

If people were to contest for thispublic sphere, the only way to do so would be in public! That isessentially how parades and print culture helped to advance Americannationalism, by bringing everything forth in the limelight for all toBibliography:


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