I have been researching Habermas' theory of the "Public Sphere", this has helped me situate my practice amongst other socially engaged work. The Public Sphere is a space whereby a free open discussion takes place, I have always been more interested in my work acting as a prompt for initiating social debate and discussion rather than pushing a strong propaganda message.
Habermas believes that the ideal Public Sphere is a place for all social classes and backgrounds to meet and discuss matters of public concern, he believes that a public Sphere free from the private life of the home and free from the state democratises politics and results in social progress. This idea of democratising social debate is a key concern within my practice, I attempt to achieve this through using a language taken from popular culture and an ongoing investigation into the vernacular.
As I continued researching, this relationship between the Public Sphere and popular culture became more problematic. Habermas believes that the rise of the culture industry and of capitalist entertainment (popular culture) has corrupted the Public Sphere and public opinion has become constructed by the cultural industry (Adorno), however I find this view to be slightly too Marxist and extreme for me personally. I view the use of popular culture as a democratic language, one that takes advantage of an already established vocabulary and is accessible to all levels of society.