Access

You are not currently logged in.

Access your personal account or get JSTOR access through your library or other institution:

login

Log in to your personal account or through your institution.

If you need an accessible version of this item please contact JSTOR User Support

Petitions and the "Invention" of Public Opinion in the English Revolution

David Zaret
American Journal of Sociology
Vol. 101, No. 6 (May, 1996), pp. 1497-1555
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2782111
Page Count: 59
  • Read Online (Free)
  • Download ($14.00)
  • Cite this Item
If you need an accessible version of this item please contact JSTOR User Support
Petitions and the "Invention" of Public Opinion in the English Revolution
Preview not available

Abstract

Current accounts of the capitalist and Protestant origins of the democratic public sphere are inconsistent and speculative. This empirical account explains the transition in political communication from norms of secrecy to appeals to public opinion. Popular communicative change in the English Revolution anticipated, in practice, the democratic theory of the public sphere when printing transformed a traditional instrument of communication-the petition. Petitions had medieval origins and traditions that upheld norms of secrecy and privilege in political communication. Economic and technical properties of printing-namely, heightened commercialism and the capacity to reproduce texts-demolished these norms by changing the scope and content of communication by petition. This practical innovation appears in all factions in the revolution. But among radical groups, the political use of printed petitions led to novel theories and to democratic speculation on constitutional provisions that would ensure the authority of public opinion in politics. This analysis contradicts key assumptions on communicative change that fuel pessimistic assessments of the modern public sphere in post-modernism and critical theory.

Page Thumbnails

  • Thumbnail: Page 
1497
    1497
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1498
    1498
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1499
    1499
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1500
    1500
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1501
    1501
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1502
    1502
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1503
    1503
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1504
    1504
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1505
    1505
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1506
    1506
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1507
    1507
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1508
    1508
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1509
    1509
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1510
    1510
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1511
    1511
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1512
    1512
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1513
    1513
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1514
    1514
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1515
    1515
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1516
    1516
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1517
    1517
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1518
    1518
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1519
    1519
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1520
    1520
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1521
    1521
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1522
    1522
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1523
    1523
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1524
    1524
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1525
    1525
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1526
    1526
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1527
    1527
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1528
    1528
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1529
    1529
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1530
    1530
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1531
    1531
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1532
    1532
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1533
    1533
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1534
    1534
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1535
    1535
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1536
    1536
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1537
    1537
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1538
    1538
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1539
    1539
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1540
    1540
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1541
    1541
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1542
    1542
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1543
    1543
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1544
    1544
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1545
    1545
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1546
    1546
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1547
    1547
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1548
    1548
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1549
    1549
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1550
    1550
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1551
    1551
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1552
    1552
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1553
    1553
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1554
    1554
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1555
    1555