Skip to main content
Politics in the Public Sphere: The Power of Tiny Publics in Classical Sociology
Sociologica (2008)
  • Gary Alan Fine, Northwestern University
  • Elisabeth Brooke Harrington, Copenhagen Business School
  • Sandro Segre, University of Genoa

As Fine and Harrington [2004] have argued, the relationship between individuals and the social systems which they inhabit is shaped within face-to-face groups. Early work by Habermas and others on the development of the public sphere suggests that interactional arenas – salons, taverns, coffee houses, or other small group modalities – create arenas of discourse in which civil society is enacted and made concrete. However, this research has not led – as one might have expected – to the explicit theoretical attention by political sociologists to small groups and their political incarnation as “tiny publics.” In this article, we make the case for a stronger linkage between the two realms of theory, arguing that political sociology requires the conceptual frameworks of social psychology to explain how meaning and action are constituted in civic life.

  • small groups; civil society; interaction
Publication Date
Citation Information
Gary Alan Fine, Elisabeth Brooke Harrington and Sandro Segre. "Politics in the Public Sphere: The Power of Tiny Publics in Classical Sociology" Sociologica Vol. 1 (2008)
Available at: