Self-Organized Publics in Mass Protests: An Introduction
In his oft-cited work, Publics and Counterpublics, Michael Warner reflects on the tense relationship between public and private life. Modernity has given rise, he holds, to disconnections between our private and public selves, generating ‘a romantic longing for unity’ (Warner 2002, p. 25). The manifestation of unity may emerge in expressions of personal taste and emotion or gender and sexuality (a key focus of Warner’s). But it can also be more explicitly political in nature, as individual reflections on and reactions to political events generate collective, solidaristic responses (Jasper 1998). In this way, public manifestations of privately held beliefs seek to bring the public sphere into line, if only temporarily and provisionally, with the private. Such manifestations can be more or less routinized or transgressive, individual or collective, depending on the local contexts and causes of private discontent and their public forms.