History of Art

In: Historical Events

Submitted By clementina
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“Did the development of a middle-class ‘public sphere’ significantly alter artistic practice during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries?”

In The Structural transformation of the Public Sphere[1], Jürgen Habermas describes how this area in social life, both separated from the “private sphere” and the “sphere of public authority”, where people can get together and freely discuss and identify societal problems and trough that even influence political action, has not always existed. Its creation was part of a long process that had its peak at the turn of the eighteenth century. He also explains how, although this phenomenon concerns the whole of the European society, the British case stands out.

The genesis of the public sphere is first of all associated to an economical factor. As a result from the modernization of the economy, based upon a systematic use of public credit and the free circulation of goods and capital, it is especially the city of London that expanded at a remarkable speed with the sudden and fast development of merchant banking and insurance, as well as warehousing and trading.

This new horizon of possibilities on terms of wealth and independence unfolds simultaneously to important shifts in the political arena. After years of blood spill trough civil war, which ended with the execution of King Charles I, a constitutional monarchy was finally established. The idea of a freer, more horizontal conception of social relations started to spread, and regardless of the fact that there still lay a gap between the aspiration of citizens becoming the main political actors and the actual realization of it, from then on Crown’s actions and Parliament’s decisions would be under constant commentary and criticism fuelled by the press, and the public authority would continuously be called before the forum of the –now wider and more…...

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