The concept of "public" is a cultural form — or a practical fiction — present in our modern society in a very determined way. It possesses the same universality that other concepts such as rights, nations, and markets possess. But the "public" only exists if it is imagined as such, if the intimate theatre of relationship integrates and assimilates the unknown into a limited but at the same time expansive field. It (the "public") is a fiction that asks a price of an individual life, and a significant one at that. It possesses regular properties and powerful implications in the way that it appropriates modern culture. Modern life entails a struggle for compatibility between the nature of the "public" and its interactions.
Halfway between historical analysis, theoretical reflection and concrete cases, Michael Warner shows how the ideas of "public" (and "counterpublic") work through formal arguments and decisive stratagems within the framework of civil society. The intersection that Warner constructs between the theory of the public sphere and queer theory throws us into a lucid and provocative vision of the way in which culture and society conform within a milieu where the likenesses and differences of the "public" and the "counterpublic" are crucial.