Mubi Brighenti, Andrea (2008) Democracy and Its Visibilities. UNSPECIFIED. (Unpublished)
The paper explores the democratic regime as a specific visibility regime. It takes as its starting point the idea that visibility is a complex sociological category. The field of visibility interweaves aesthetic and semiotic relations, in other words it crosscuts the domains of the perceptual and the symbolic. Visibility can be described as a relational, strategic and processual feature that characterises human relations. More specifically, contemporary society is arranged into regimes of visibility that concur in the definition and management of power, representation, public opinon, violence and social control. Whereas potential ambivalences are inherent to all visibility effects, regimes contribute to specify and activate contextual determinations of the visible. Norberto Bobbio defined democracy as the exercise of 'power in public', while Jürgen Habermas characterized the public sphere as an open and accessible discoursive space. But what is properly public in the public sphere and how can it be conceptualized in terms of visibility? What are the specific consequences of visible as opposed to invisible power? The paper provides an attempt at answering these questions by conceptualising and understanding the democratic visibility regime from a transdisciplinary perspective, joining together contributions from interactionism, cultural studies and political science.
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