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Jurgen Habermas German Still Alive (1929-)

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Presentation on theme: "Jurgen Habermas German Still Alive (1929-)"— Presentation transcript:

1 Jurgen Habermas German Still Alive (1929-)
Second generation Frankfurter Originally a Marxist, later associated with social reformism Persisting goal: developing the Enlightenment tradition of achieving social progress through rational critique of received ideas and practices

2 Enlightenment Values and the Sociological tradition
Enlightenment = the rational critique of received practices will enable social progress Marx = such progress is hampered by ‘false class consciousness’ Durkheim = social structures will promote appropriate, i.e. socially rational, norms and values But Weber = rational critique is incompatible with adherence to social values Foucault = rational critique is a claim to power

What is Sociology for? Defending the Enlightenment tradition (Cultural) Marxism - Frankfurt Values and Rationality - ‘Praxis’ Cognitive Interests – Control,  Communication,  Criticism Developing Weber re (instrumental) rationality and the ‘iron cage’ but rejecting Foucault’s claim that rationality is experts’ ideology Does the ‘cultural turn’ lead from Marx to Parsons?

4 Cultural Marxism & Knowledge
Focus on how social control is maintained through the cultural production of (false) knowledge e.g. Hegemony Term used by A. Gramsci to describe how the domination of one class over another is achieved by a combination of political and ideological means. Although political force, coercion, is always important, the role of ideology in winning the consent of the dominated classes may be even more significant… the latter being more important in capitalist societies. Source: Abercrombie et al Penguin dictionary of Sociology (emphasis added)

Knowledge Interest Means Criterion Empirical Control Laws Proof presumes the capacity to share knowledge: requires Hermeneutic Communication Understanding Consensus presumes the adequacy of available interpretations: requires Critical Emancipation Ideology critique Praxis These are the essential, rationally necessary, forms of knowledge

6 Knowledge and Rationality
Empirical interest produces Instrumental rationality Hermeneutic interest produces Communicative rationality Critical Interest produces Critical/Reflexive rationality

Empirical Science  Experts/Laity Hermeneutic Science  Co-Interpreters Critical Science  Equal Participants (?)

8 CRITICAL THEORY Goal = Critique of Ideology
Ideology = ‘Systematically distorted communication’ produces and is produced by Domination

Critique is not condemnation but questioning Questioning is oriented to creating a better society What is the better society? The problem of value-judgements (Weber/Hume) Knowledge versus Opinion Can we identify rational (necessary) social values? Habermas: rationality is achieved through discourse (speech)

Intelligibility Truth Justification Sincerity all according to Habermas are necessarily presupposed in any interaction setting. Re e.g. the effects of perceived ‘spin’. a) But what would Goffman (or John Bone) say? b) The ISS presupposes a social setting, an ideal speech community, in which these conditions are routinely attainable. Is this realistic?

11 Habermas versus Goffman
Is/Should action be guided by the norms of Communicative Rationality (Habermas) or Dramaturgical Rationality (Goffman)? Goffman: uncritical acceptance of cynical distortions of interaction or recognition of the necessity of ‘honouring the situation’ Habermas: emancipating identification of irrational constraints on interaction or naïve acceptance of dominant individualism

Exists where: All interested parties can participate All have the right to speak All have the right to be heard All ideas can be critically examined Power differences are irrelevant to outcomes Decisions are the outcome of unforced consensus

13 Utopianism or Realism Is such a community possible; if not it is a Utopian (unrealistic and therefore irrational) ideal: Marx and Utopianism: Rational critique is rooted in the real (material) conditions of existence. Utopianism is dangerous fantasy Ideology and Ideology critique: but if our understanding is shaped by power-distorted communication our critique will be ideological

14 ‘Gaps’ in the System Interstices: gaps in the system enable us to glimpse the possibility of domination-free relationships. Historically: 5th century BC Athens; the agora 18th century coffee-houses: World-wide web: unrestrained public forum: Zapatistas Voluntaristic public involvement: NSMs The intimacies of everyday life: love & friendship

15 But Athens and slavery Coffee houses and stock markets The web and porn Iron Law of Oligarchy ‘Private’ violence And Expertise; planners and citizens Presentational skills; double-glazing salesmen Sectional interests

16 Therefore Critical Theory must indicate not only the potential areas of domination free dialogue but also explain why this potential has not been achieved in modern society

17 Habermas’s Critique of Modernity
The ‘empirical’ knowledge interest in control is necessary but now dominates modernity by excluding the hermeneutic and critical interests; re Weber on instrumental rationality i.e. modernity is a ‘one-sided’ rationality Consequence: Legitimation Crisis: a) Separation of efficiency-led social systems from the normative basis of the lifeworld b) Colonisation of the lifeworld by ‘rational’ systems and technical experts c) Production of system crises

18 LIFEWORLD (lebenswelt)
Phenomenology the world as immediately or directly experienced in the subjectivity of everyday life, as sharply distinguished from the objective “worlds” of the sciences, which employ the methods of the of the mathematical sciences of nature. Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica. Habermas extends this definition to contrast the life-world with the ‘methodically’ driven, impersonal routines of that dominate the social system of modernity e.g. politics, economics Source: Me

Habermas: Knowledge and Power are separable. Emancipation comes through rational, domination-free consensus Foucault: Knowledge and Power are necessarily interlinked. Emancipation comes through the diversity of ideas

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