A key point that Habermas omits, however, is that in the Greek world the private and public were gendered spheres. The head of a household was always male, and women had no real legal or political status. The public realm was male, competitive and open: the private realm was female, and secret.

Habermas begins to chart the transformation and development of these of Greek categories. He makes it clear that the "modern" public sphere is tied to very specific economic, social and political conditions.

The stage that comes after the classical period for Habermas is the "feudal period", or the Middle Ages. For Habermas, a social hierarchy of orders or estates characterizes this period, with the King at the top, followed by the nobility and then the common people. There is no division between public and private in the modern sense, in that the King is the only "public" thing in the kingdom. There are no private or public institutions, hence Habermas' admission that he can find no "sociological basis" for the public sphere. However, publicity does exist in a representative form. It is not exactly the competitive, masculine publicity evident in ancient Greece, but rather a display of status and power.

In representative publicity, the King or noble displays his status before the people in a ceremonial display. He represents himself before a public; no discussion or collective action takes place. The public is merely required to watch, and to acclaim the sovereign. Such ceremonies typically take place at court. The best examples of this kind of publicity, according to Habermas, are the French and Burgundian courts of the fifteenth century, and the court of Louis XIV of France.

Representative publicity and the structures that surrounded it were dissolved by the development of the bourgeois, capitalist system. The emergence of a capitalist economy in early modern Europe both supported and undermined the old structures. News and commodities were key features in this process. Trade in commodities such as spices and coal developed, and required new economic structures; merchants formed companies, and began to promote their commercial interests. Initially, the trade in news was directly related to business needs. Merchants needed information about ships, the weather and the political situation in various countries. But this need became more generalized, and news reached a wider audience. This was the very beginning of a critical, debating press.

The new economic structures of early capitalism formed what Habermas calls civil society. Its specific character depended on the separation of household and production. Economics, a word which comes from oikos, no longer related to household production but to a more public system of exchange.

From the beginning, civil society was linked to the modern state. The state developed alongside the new kinds of business and economic structure. Its major components were new systems of taxation to exploit the wealth of the new economy, systems of administration to control the population, and a more permanent army. In this period, according to Habermas, the state began to take on more and more functions, and to affect people's lives more directly. This involvement provided the basis for critical debate. Habermas argues that in complaining about tax officials, or debating with minor officials, people began to learn how to use their reason publicly and critically.

The last key development is the emergence of a new social class. The bourgeoisie, or middle class, grew in numbers and influence; it became a reading public. The bourgeois is the most important element in Habermas' story in many ways. The last remaining factor was the further development of the press from providing information to encouraging critical debate. Habermas ends the section by leaving the bourgeois poised at the beginning of the public sphere.

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