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The blogosphere: Neither Hayek nor Habermas January 14, 2010

Posted by Sverre in : Academic matters, blogging , comments closed

While researching for my master thesis (yes, it should have been finished by now. It isn’t – for several reasons.) I stumbled across an interesting article by Cass Sunstein1 about the blogosphere and whether or not it adheres to the ideals of Hayek’s information market or Habermas’ public sphere. His conclusion is that it doesn’t adhere to either very well. The article is a couple of years old, but still interesting. Political science bloggers Dan Drezner and Henry Farrell are among the sources he cites.

I quote the abstract:

The rise of the blogosphere raises important questions about the elicitation and aggregation of information, and about democracy itself. Do blogs allow people to check information and correct errors? Can we understand the blogosphere as operating as a kind of marketplace for information along Hayekian terms? Or is it a vast public meeting of the kind that Jurgen Habermas describes? In this article, I argue that the blogosphere cannot be understood as a Hayekian means for gathering dispersed knowledge because it lacks any equivalent of the price system. I also argue that forces of polarization characterize the blogosphere as they do other social interactions, making it an unlikely venue for Habermasian deliberation, and perhaps leading to the creation of information cocoons. I conclude by briefly canvassing partial responses to the problem of polarization.


  1. Sunstein, Cass R. (2007) “Neither Hayek nor Habermas” Public Choice 134(1-2), Springer Netherlands, pp. 87-95. Available online in fulltext through SpringerLink for those with acess: http://www.springerlink.com/content/b8167107l4662l47/ []

My thesis and my blog June 24, 2009

Posted by Sverre in : My master thesis , comments closed

This blog hasn’t gotten the attention it did a few months ago. There are several reasons for this, but most of them boil down to the fact that I’ve been occupied with other things, among them my Norwegian language blog Det politiske dyr. Another thing that has gotten too little attention has been my master thesis. I’ll now be trying to kill two birds with one stone through using this blog as a tool for my master thesis work. Beginning with right now I am going to start posting bits and pieces from my thesis in temporary versions as I write them. My hope is that someone will actually read it and comment on any errors, weaknesses, disagreements or even encouragement. I don’t believe in hogging my secrets, arguments and data. If I open myself to continuous commentary, I might possibly have some insights I otherwise wouldn’t have.

I start off with posting the last rewrite of the outline of my thesis:

Thesis outline

I start out with a belief that deliberation is important to democracy and that our current systems of democracy are in several ways detrimental to good deliberation. I believe that this affects the quality and outcome of political decisions without actually empowering the people in the way supposed by much of current thought.

I do however realize that my beliefs are not very important to anyone but myself. My beliefs have no relevance to scientific debate if I cannot transform them from beliefs into complete scientific arguments. I am furthermore of the impression that current thought on deliberation, although far advanced, suffers a lack of credence in the social sciences because of weak empirical underpinnings.

This has led me to single out three research topics, each of which will be devoted a separate section of this thesis. The topics are separate and will be handled with different methodical approaches, but will hopefully constitute a meaningful totality. My main goal is to effectively argue that deliberation is important to democracy and to contribute in the search of effective ways to strengthen that idea through empirical research. (more…)

Polemarchus.net is on the move June 7, 2009

Posted by Sverre in : About , comments closed

nsbPolemarchus.net has now been moved wordpress.com to a self-hosted WordPress solution. This will make the blog more flexible, and I’ll try to implement a few improvements over the coming weeks. Other than that, the transition will hopefully be seamless. Please notify me if links stop working or anything else seems wrong.

No freedom of speech in France? June 6, 2009

Posted by Sverre in : World politics , comments closed

I can’t yet find any English sources on this, but Norwegian newspaper Aftenpostenand the Swedish Aftonbladet report of events in France that don’t belong in any democratic country.  A French blogger was reportedly arrested and charged with “public insults” after having called the French Minister of Families, Nadine Sorano a liar. “Hou la menteuse” – “O, what a liar” are said to be the exact words of 49-year-old blogger Dominique Broueilh. The newspapers claim that Sorano has also called for tighter surveillance of bloggers in general by Frenchs ISPs.

If this is true, it is nothing short of an outrage. No democracy is possible if public figures are to be protected by such strict laws. Merely being impolite can’t be a reason to clamp down on free speach. I didn’t believe a democratic Western European country like France could employ such policies…

Loosening up a bit January 26, 2009

Posted by Sverre in : meta , comments closed

grubleren2Anyone checking up on this blog regularly would have noticed that it’s been a month since any posts now. That month has been spent celebrating Christmas as well as being sick with a really bad flu. But it’s also been spent thinking about what I’m gonna do with this blog. And the result is that there’s going to be a little change in style.

This is my first serious attempt at blogging, and I’ve been going now for a few months. It has been both fun and educational even if I don’t think I’ve revolutionized the way the world thinks just yet. I’m working on it, though.

Looking back on the blog so far, both in terms of content and stats, I think I’ve been to concerned about being scientific. I’ve been too concerned with not posting something until I’ve thought about it long enough to say something meaningful about it from a social science perspective. That was also my main motivation for starting blogging – to make my small, obscure scientific contributions accessible. I won’t stop doing that, but I do think I’ll be a bit more relaxed when it comes to also posting just simple thoughts and observations on things related to political science. That’s what I’ve noticed that I like to read on other blogs, and that’s some of the posts that have got the most hits on my blog as well.

So, to conclude: From now on there will not be less scientific stuff, but I will be more relaxed in slipping less scientific stuff in between. Stay tuned!