The neo-revisionist view of public opinion is, with certain significant modifications, taken over from Jurgen Habermas's important study, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphered. Habermas is explicit about two other points that are relevant. First, public opinion as he described it is something radically new, emerging in England at the end of the seventeenth century, and in France around the middle of the eighteenth. Secondly, Habermas emphasizes that the public sphere is bourgeois in character. Civil society was a sphere of freedom for the owners of property and commodities, not for all members of society. The rational, unified and normative concept of public opinion that figures prominently in Habermas's The Structural Transfonnation and appears frequently in political writings of the second half of the eighteenth century offers neo-revisionists what is probably the key element in their reconstruction of pre-revolutionary and revolutionary political culture.
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© Jeremy Black 2006. For copyright of individual articles please refer to the Acknowledgements. All rights reserved.
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