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GARCIA, André Spuri; PEREIRA, José Roberto; ALCANTARA, Valderí de Castro  and  CRUZ, Elaine Santos Teixeira. Understanding the concept of public sphere in social management: ideas for an empirical-descriptive and normative reconstruction. Cad. EBAPE.BR [online]. 2018, vol.16, n.2, pp.163-185. ISSN 1679-3951.

This article aims to reconstruct the concept of public sphere as an empirical-descriptive and normative category of research in social management. In this process, it is revealed that the concept of public sphere has been criticized and reformulated in the works of Habermas (1962; 1981; 1992) and the most current conceptions cover a plurality of publics, interests, opinions, conflicting dimensions and oppressive potentials. This article is a theoretical essay and incudes an extensive bibliographical research focused mainly on the literature on “social management” and the “public sphere”. Several gaps and limitations were identified on the understanding of the public sphere by studies in the field of social management. Considering the limitations as learning processes, this article aims to move forward from new elements. The article argues that if the public sphere is considered a locus of social management research (normative and empirical-descriptive) it is important to highlight that: (1) the public sphere- is a locus of consensus and conflict; (2) the public sphere can be concretely constituted of democratic, emancipatory, and oppressive elements; (3) it is formed by a diversity of publics (and counter-publics) with different ‘capacities’ of access and argumentation; (4) in Brazil there was a formation of a subordinate public sphere; (5) the characteristics of public sphere formation cannot be imported, and (6) the effectiveness of the public sphere is influenced by systemic structures. This article shows that reconstruction of the concept of public sphere defends the descriptive, normative and critical potential of public sphere, especially if it is explored considering Habermas, his commentators and critics.

Keywords : Public sphere; Social management; Habermas; Subaltern spheres.

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