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The phenomenology of civic involvement: Arendt and Habermas.

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1 The phenomenology of civic involvement: Arendt and Habermas

2 Introduction Two concepts of civic involvement: –Based on cognitive conviction –Based on pre-intentional affections Two concepts of civic socialization: –Cognitive learning process –Series of decisive experiences that made permanent impact on the subject

3 Phenomenological concept of socialization Socialization = acquisition of meanings and the competence of meaning formation Substantive civic socialization = acquisition of meanings relevant in civic action situations Formal civic socialization = acquisition of a way of interactive meaning formation, the competence of participating in the processes of general will formation

4 Traditions of phenomenological sociology Weberian tradition: focus on the cognitive- intentional level of social actions, treats socialization mainly as a cognitive process, as the rational acceptance of meanings and ways of action Durkheimian tradition: focus on the pre- intentional level of social actions, treats socialization as a chain of rituals, as incorporation of the social meanings and practices

5 The aim of the presentation The general theoretical linking of the two traditions is missing, thus intentional and pre-intentional empirical results can not be connected My aim is to introduce a way of combining the two theoretical perspectives – intentional and pre-intentional – a propos of the mechanism of civic socialization

6 An intentional model of civic socialization: Habermas (1) Every meaning, is formed and maintained by communicative actions Communicative action is the linguistic coordination mechanism of social actions, constituted of speech acts If the speech acts follow the model of the pure argumentative debate, then it is an undistorted discourse. If not then it is a willingly or unwillingly distorted process

7 An intentional model of civic socialization: Habermas (2) A society that is integrated via undistorted communicative processes or via laws, which are legitimated by such acts, counts as democratic Civic socialization can be defined on a substantive level as the understanding of the forms and institutions of general will formation On a formal level as the acquisition of moral meanings implying an attitude of undistorted debate, and the acquisition of competences to follow such a discourse

8 An intentional model of civic socialization: Habermas (3) These substantive and formal moral skills can be acquired in a cognitive learning process introduced by Piaget and Kohlberg Therefore, according to the Habermasian theory cognitive moral development is the fundamental presupposition of democratic socialization, and democratic societies as well Requirements of moral development: –one needs to face many time that her moral concept is unjust from other’s perspective. –one needs to access debates wherein rational reasons are introduced, which support a moral concept that is more just then the original

9 The paradox of pure cognitive moral development theory The question: how could someone motivate the other rationally to give up her concept of justice? If a person of postconventional morality tries to convince a person of conventional morality about the limitation of her concept of justice, then she has to follow a conventional argumentation She has to argue that the partner should accept postconventional morality because it comes from the norms This is contradiction, as the essence of postconventional morality is that not particular norms but universal values are the principles of justification

10 Way out of the paradox: Arendt In order to avoid this paradox we need to find an alternative source of meaning formation, which is –not based on the model of rational argumentation –capable of overwriting the conventional set of norms Such a mechanism may be introduced with the help of Arendt’s political phenomenology

11 Political phenomenology of Arendt (1) Labor: the maintenance of life, the cycle of consumption and production, determined by necessities Work: the creation of the artificial world around us, determined by necessities Action: motivated by the unique features of human existence, the desire for freedom, uniqueness and immortality

12 Political phenomenology of Arendt (2) The requirement of fulfilling these desires may be introduced through the example of ancient Greek polis. Oikos: the household, it was organized by the rule of the head of the house, and its purpose was the satisfaction of necessities Agora: the public sphere, it was constituted of equal man, and its purpose was the satisfaction of their existential desires

13 Political phenomenology of Arendt (3) Those who entered the public sphere were independent from each other and the necessities. The community of independent and equal man constituted a space where free action became possible The only criterion to start any actions was the agreement of the citizens. This resulted that the main activity of a Greek citizen became the debate itself. Standing in front of the community and stating one’s own ideas with the intention of convincing the others became the moment of freedom, of expression of the identity and the chance to become memorable

14 Public sphere today and its relevance In a modern society opportunities for creating free public spheres: –revolution, civil disobedience (Arendt) –bourgeois public sphere (Habermas) –civil sphere (Arato and Cohen) –every small local community, circle of friends, which has relative independence In public sphere experiences may born, which are pre-intentional and in the same time capable of suspending any conventional morality They are the key to our paradox

15 Conclusions The cognitive and pre-cognitive phases of civic socialization complement each other Nobody who has never experienced freedom in a public sphere may be convinced that universal human rights are more just than local norms. And nobody will reach postconventional morality who has only experienced freedom but has not been cognitively processed it as well. That is why these two components are indispensable in the process of civic socialization. That is why researches should focus both of them

16 Thank you! Email: Web:

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