The Evolution of Communication in the Public Sphere

I have analyzed the evolution of Western public communication from a comparative perspective. In the nineteenth century, the liberal state had the function of protecting and guaranteeing personal civil rights (equality before the law, liberty, property and political participation), expressing its power without interfering in the sphere of the economy. It has also done so through apparatuses that have communicated prescriptions, demarcating clear boundaries between public and private. The dissolution of the liberal state, the advent of totalitarianism and the world wars prepared the conditions for the birth of the welfare state, which attempted to achieve formal equality for all citizens through compulsory public education, free health care and direct intervention in the economy. Starting from the unsustainability of public spending, fueled by a clientelistic culture of acquired and irremovable rights, the Neoliberal State emerges to promote the return to the light state. The public/private relationship becomes more complicated. If, in Scandinavia, this evolution makes public action more streamlined but does not imply the renunciation of welfare principles, in Italy, paradoxically, the change increases bureaucracy and immobility. Publicization of the private and privatization of the public produce perverse effects. Dystopian scenarios are feared, guided by a technocratic functionalism that focuses on objectives without calculating the social consequences. The models of the State examined, despite their differences, show a side in common: they conceal the vices and virtues of an "impersonal" institution that communicates without entering into a relationship with its own community. They are models that keep the public sphere separate from the private one in terms of values, norms and symbols. The author of the research underlines these aspects in order to lay the foundations for a new model of "interpersonal" State that is able to deactivate the self-referentiality of the systems through: a. the re-appropriation of the proper relational relationship between official and citizen; b. the elimination of clear boundaries between public and private. Within this scenario, currently utopian, the institution would: 1. understand the conditions that impede access to information, restoring systemic trust; 2. build a daily relationship on the basis of reliable information; 3. eliminate the propagandistic practice of announcement, preferring the communication of facts.
Public communication would become empathetic and orient collective behavior towards the common good, reintroducing the 'reflexive relationship' within the worlds of information and communication.