The bourgeois public sphere may be conceived above all as the sphere of private people come together as a public.

This is perhaps the most important quotation in the entire work, and sums up Habermas’s idea of the public sphere concisely. Private people are those whose status comes from their ownership of property and their status within the family in the private realm. These conditions allow them to enter the public realm as private people, in order to debate rationally and engage with public authority. As they enter the public realm, they are joined together as a larger, powerful group called the “public.” Many political philosophers, such as Hobbes, have argued in a similar way about how people come together to form states. Habermas applies a similar process to the creation of a force that challenges and checks the power of the state.