Lippmann Project Goals

At this point I am still trying to grasp who Lippmann was and the historical context he was writing in (primarily between 1914 and 1929).  After reading the books he wrote in this time period that represent his scholarly attempts to determine the nature & shortcomings of the press, public opinion, and the future of democracy, there are many questions I believe have potential as avenues of inquiry.  What problems was he trying to solve and in what historical context?  Who had major influences on him?  How does his thought indicate influence by the pragmatist school of philosophy?  How do his ideas bear relevance to the issues we face today?

My focus now turns to re-reading Lippmann’s works while exploring secondary sources for clues to how he is interpreted today, especially in regard to my field of media studies.  One subject that I’m particularly interested in is the supposed Dewey-Lippmann debate.  How do contemporary scholars frame each position, what evidence do they base their conclusions on, and why might they have a stake in their particular interpretation?  If the debate is largely contrived as some have argued, what purpose does it serve, how did it come into existence, for whose purposes, and how should we view it today?  The scholars I will be starting with in my exploration of these questions are Sue Curry Jansen, John Durham Peters, Robert B. Westbrook, and James Carey (to list a few).

My secondary area of interest outside of media history is the role of social media in journalism and the contemporary democratic process in America.  I believe there are many questions that remain unanswered about how Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and others shape journalism, public opinion, and civic responsibility.  Lippmann and Dewey may provide useful lenses through which to analyze these issues.

One brief disclaimer about the information found on this website: this blog & my explorations here are primarily for my own benefit.  I do not call myself an expert on Dewey, Lippmann, the 1920s, progressivism, social media, etc.  Anybody reading these posts will immediately be aware of the limited scope of my knowledge.  It is largely for the purposes of expanding my expertise that this site exists.  If by some chance you, my reader, know more about these things than I do than I would be very interested in constructive criticism.  However, bear in mind that this project is a learning experience.

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