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Nancy Fraser’s path-breaking “Rethinking the Public Sphere” brought the term “subaltern counterpublics” into critical theoretical discourse. Four innovative directions developed in that essay have now become established in the discourse of deliberative democracy: (1) a focus on inequalities in deliberation; (2) a move, in understanding the public sphere, from Habermas’s unitary conception to Fraser’s plurality of contesting publics; (3) a move to include self-interest in deliberation, when self-interest is constrained by fairness and rights; (4) a move away from a sharp separation between civil society and state to considering these spheres interpenetrating and both subject to democratic norms. Fraser’s early insights continue to illuminate each development.


Mansbridge, Jane. "The Long Life of Nancy Fraser’s “Rethinking the Public Sphere”." Feminism, Capitalism, and Critique. Ed. Banu Bargu and Chiara Bottici. Palgrave Macmillan, 2017, 101-118.