Interrogating the fifth estate

Chika Anyanwu

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Using Habermas’ public sphere, this chapter argues that the fourth and fifth estates are founded on the enduring ideology of accountability/watchdog functionality and public participation and that technologies of the day affect how such roles are performed. While social media is often regarded as the fifth estate, it is the ubiquitous nature of the technology that enables radical forms of conversation which we subsume for an estate. I argue that in discussing fourth and fifth estates, the question should be less about legitimacy or supremacy of one over the other, but more about understanding the fundamental role of the estates, how they are able to perform such roles, and the conditions under which they operate. The other important question is whether, in today’s neoliberal economy, the estates are still capable of enabling a participatory public sphere and whether it would still be realistic to expect accountability/guard dog functionality from them (Kakabadse et al. 2010), rather than a watch dog functionality where the media alerts and enables public debate on issues of general concern
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCreating space in the fifth estate
EditorsJanet Fulton, Phillip McIntyre
Place of PublicationNewcastle upon Tyne, UK
PublisherCambridge Scholars Publishing
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)9781443872898
Publication statusPublished - 01 May 2017

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