ARADHANA.
How inclusive do you see the public sphere that you are researching to be?

FRANCIS.
It depends on where you locate public opinion-making.

If you do so at the level of consumption, there is something profoundly gendered about how different media have organised themselves. So, even if you look at the debate that I was speaking of about – a debate centred around a newspaper at a tea shop – it is very masculine. Tea shops are not places where women hang out.

Papers that have made a claim to wider readership and persuaded people to subscribe at home have a much more heterogeneous readership when it comes to both age and gender. At the same time, it is less democratic because it is a very private form of consumption. So, there is that level.

Then, of course, there is the larger level at which the political parties set the agenda for what counts for public discourse.

And then there are several things that people know or can talk about, at tea shops for instance, that will never be written down. For instance, in Chennai I could not have given the talk that I have given here because there are certain things that you just can’t say about powerful people.

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