The New Transformation of the Public Sphere: Discourse through Documentary
Christina Tangora Schlachter, Center for Socially Responsible Leadership, USA
This paper explores how feature film documentaries about corporate citizenship are becoming critical in defining the public interest and encouraging action and discourse among scholars and practitioners. The paper examines how independent documentaries on corporate citizenship, as well as Paramount Pictures’ An Inconvenient Truth, can be seen as critical milestones in the history of corporate citizenship in the task of broadcasting the concepts of a common public sphere and a common public interest in our society and world. I connect Jürgen Habermas’s discussion of the public sphere with documentaries, both independent and mass market, as a platform to enable critical discourse on the impact and social responsibility of corporations in our society. Leveraging this fundamental debate, I explore the necessity and landmark nature of documentaries in creating a call to action based on equipping citizens with the knowledge to influence and engage in good corporate citizenship and democracy. I propose that the degradation of mass television media in general has created a void which documentaries have begun to fill in creating an informed public.