Contemporary articles citing Habermas J (1987) Theory Communicative
his, action, theories, society, historical, modern, contemporary, empirical, cultural, public
- Scott, Susie & Charles Thorpe. 2006. "The Sociological Imagination of R. D. Laing." Sociological Theory. 24:4 331-352.
- The work of psychiatrist R. D. Laing deserves recognition as a key contribution to sociological theory, in dialogue with the interactionist and interpretivist sociological traditions. Laing encourages us to identify meaningful social action in what would otherwise appear to be nonsocial phenomena. His interpretation of schizophrenia as a rational strategy of withdrawal reminds us of the threat that others can pose to the self and how social relations are implicated in even the most ``private'' and ``internal'' of experiences. He developed a far-reaching critical theory of the self in modern society, which challenges the medicalization and biochemical reduction of human problems. Using the case of shyness as an example, the article seeks to demonstrate the importance of Laing's theories for examining the fragility of the self in relation to contemporary social order.
- Garcelon, Marc. 2006. "Trajectories of Institutional Disintegration in Late-soviet Russia and Contemporary Iraq." Sociological Theory. 24:3 255-283.
- How might revolutions and other processes of institutional disintegration inform political processes preceding them ? By mapping paths of agency through processes of institutional disintegration, the trajectory improvisation model of institutional breakdown overcomes ``action-structure'' binaries by framing political revolutions as possible outcomes of such disintegrative processes. The trajectory improvisation approach expands the trajectory adjustment model of social change developed by Gil Eyal, Ivan Szelenyi, and Eleanor Townsley. An overview of political revolution in Soviet Russia between 1989 and 1991 illustrates trajectory improvisation. The recent American invasion and occupation of Iraq shows alternative routes to institutional disintegration, indicating the independence of models of institutional breakdown from those of social movements. These cases illustrate both the diversity of situations the trajectory improvisation model speaks to, and the limitation of models of trajectory adjustment, improvisation, social movements, and invasions, illustrating why such models at best enable what are called ``explanatory narratives'' of actual historical processes.
- Martin, JL & M George. 2006. "Theories of Sexual Stratification: Toward an Analytics of the Sexual Field and a Theory of Sexual Capital." Sociological Theory. 24:2 107-132.
- The American tradition of action theory failed to produce a useful theory of the possible existence of trans-individual consistencies in sexual desirability. Instead, most sociological theorists have relied on market metaphors to account for the logic of sexual action. Through a critical survey of sociological attempts to explain the social organization of sexual desiring, this article demonstrates that the market approach is inadequate, and that its inadequacies can be remedied by studying sexual action as occurring within a specifically sexual field (in Bourdieu's sense), with a correlative sexual capital. Such a conception allows for historical and comparative analysis of changes in the organization of sexual action that are impeded by the use of a market metaphor, and also points to difficulties in Bourdieu's own treatment of the body qua body.
- Gross, N. 2005. "The Detraditionalization of Intimacy Reconsidered." Sociological Theory. 23:3 286-311.
- This essay challenges those strains of cot? temporary social theory that regard romantic/sexual intimacy as a premier site of detraditionalization in the late modern era. Striking changes have occurred in intimacy and family life over the last half-century, but the notion of detraditionalization as currently formulated does not capture them very well. With the goal of achieving a more refined understanding, the article proposes a distinction between ``regulative'' and ``ineaning-constitutive'' traditions. The former involve threats of exclusion from various moral communities; the latter involve linguistic and cultural frameworks within which sense is made of the world. Focusing on the U.S. case and marshaling various kinds of empirical evidence, the article argues that while the regulative tradition of what it terms lifelong, internally stratified marriage has declined in strength in recent years, the image of the form of couplehood inscribed in this regulative tradition continues to function as a hegemonic ideal in many American intimate relationships. Intimacy in the United States also remains beholden to the tradition of romantic love. That these meaning-constitutive traditions continue to play a central role in structuring contemporary intimacy suggests that detraditionalization involves the relative decline only of certain regulative traditions, a point that calls into question some of the normative assessments that often accompany the detraditionalization thesis.
- Whipple, M. 2005. "The Dewey-lippmann Debate Today: Communication Distortions, Reflective Agency, and Participatory Democracy." Sociological Theory. 23:2 156-178.
- In this article, I introduce the Dewey-Lippmann democracy debate of the 1920s as a vehicle for considering how social theory can enhance the empirical viability of participatory democratic theory within the current context of advanced capitalism. I situate within this broad theoretical framework the theories of Habermas and Dewey. In the process, I argue (a) that while Dewey largely failed to reconcile his democratic ideal with the empirical constraint of large-scale organizations, Habermas, in particular his work on the public sphere, provides an important starting point for considering the state of public participation within the communication distortions of advanced capitalism; (b) that to fully understand the relation between communication distortions and public participation, social theorists must look beyond Habermas and return to Dewey to mobilize his bi-level view of habitual and reflective human agency; and, finally, (c) that the perspective of a Deweyan political theory of reflective agency best furthers our understanding of potential communication distortions and public participation, particularly in the empirical spaces of media centralization and intellectual property rights.
- Besecke, K. 2005. "Seeing Invisible Religion: Religion as a Societal Conversation About Transcendent Meaning." Sociological Theory. 23:2 179-196.
- Contemporary sociology conceptualizes religion along two dimensions: the institutional and the individual. Lost in this dichotomy is religion's noninstitutional, but collective and public, cultural dimension. As a result, theories of religious modernity, including both sides of the secularization debate, are unable to recognize or evaluate the social power of noninstitutionalized religious communication. This article offers a reconceptualization of religion that highlights its cultural, communicative dimension. Original research on religious talk provides an empirical ground for a theoretical discussion that highlights: (1) the ``invisible'' nature of religion in modern societies, as theorized by Thomas Luckmann and (2) the social power attributed to communication by contemporary cultural sociologists and cultural theorists. I argue that conceptualizing religion as an evolving societal conversation about transcendent meaning broadens the empirical and theoretical grasp of the religion concept.
- Meeks, C. 2001. "Civil Society and the Sexual Politics of Difference." Sociological Theory. 19:3 325-343.
- This paper discusses the sexual politics of anti-normalization within the context of the sociological discussions of civil society and the public sphere. The sexual politics of anti-normalization is less centered around ``identity'' as a means of securing group solidarity and representing sexual communities in civil society. A politics of anti-normalization comprehends identity as a means of normalizing and regulating sexual desire and difference. Anti-normalization entails the politicization of ethical-moral issues concerning sex and desire and the production of sexual differences beyond the usual opposition of heterosexuality to homosexuality. I discuss the ways that the theoretical discourses on civil society reduce conceptions of difference to identity and develop a framework for analyzing the sexual politics of difference ``beyond identity'' in the public sphere.
- King, A. 2000. "Thinking With Bourdieu Against Bourdieu: a `practical' Critique of the Habitus." Sociological Theory. 18:3 417-433.
- There are two strands in Bourclieu's sociological writings. On the one hand Bourdieu argues for a theoretical position one might term his `practical theory'' which emphasizes virtuosic interactions between individuals. On the other hand, and most frequently, Bourdieu appeals to the concept of the habitus according to which society consists of objective structures and determined-and isolated-individuals. Although Bourdieu believes that the habitus is compatible with his practical theory and overcomes the impasse of objectivism and subjectivism in social theory, neither claim is the case; the habitus is incompatible with his practical theory, and it retreats quickly into objectivism. However Bourdieu's practical theory does offer a way out of the impasse of objectivism and subjectivism by focussing on the intersubjective interactions between individuals.
- Dillon, M. 1999. "The Authority of the Holy Revisited: Habermas, Religion, and Emancipatory Possibilities." Sociological Theory. 17:3 290-306.
- This article argues that Jurgen Habermas's view of religion as anathema to rational critical discourse reflects his misunderstanding that religion comprises a monolithic and immutable body of dogma that is closed to reason. Illustrative data from Catholic history and theology and empirical data gathered from contemporary American Catholics are used to show the weaknesses in Habermas's negation of the possibility of a self-critical religious discourse. Specifically, I highlight the doctrinal differentiation within Catholicism , its longstanding theological emphasis on the coupling of faith and reason, institutional reflexivity, and the doctrinally reflexive reasoning that contemporary Catholics us in negotiating what might appear as ``contradictory'' identities (e.g., being gay or lesbian and Catholic). Although the data presented take issue with Habermas's disavowal of religion the article shows that the practical relevance of doctrinal reasoning at both the institutional and the individual level vindicate Habermas's faith in the emancipatory potential of reasoned argumentation to advance participative equality.
- Torpey, J. 1998. "Coming and Going: on the State Monopolization of the Legitimate ``means of Movement''." Sociological Theory. 16:3 239-259.
- Following the imagery of ``expropriation'' used by Marx to describe the process of capitalist development and by Weber to characterize states' monopolization of the legitimate use of violence, I argue that modern states have also ``expropriated the legitimate means of movement'' and monopolized the authority to determine who may circulate within and cross their borders. Against this background, we should reconsider the metaphor of ``penetration'' typically used to discuss the enhanced capacity of modern states relative to their predecessors, and instead think of states as ``embracing'' populations, identifying persons unambiguously in order to control their movements and to distinguish members from nonmembers.
- Martin, JL. 1998. "Authoritative Knowledge and Heteronomy in Classical Sociological Theory." Sociological Theory. 16:2 99-130.
- This article traces the impact of philosophical questions regarding the grounds of moral autonomy and heteronomy (rule-from-another as opposed to rule-from-oneself) on classical sociological theory, arguing that both Weber and Durkheim understood sociology to have a contribution to make in the debate,with Kant over the grounds of ethical action. Both insisted that the only possible ethical action was one within the bounds of rational knowledge that was inherently authoritative, but this sat uneasily with their focus on the relation between concrete social authority and the authoritativeness of beliefs in the sociology of religion. In rejecting Comte's explicit avowal of the embodiment of moral authority in the secular priesthood of sociologist, Weber and Durkheim had to paper over the social authority supporting the formulation of this rational knowledge. Each then produced a sociology of knowledge without a well-specified mechanism, in turn encouraging the development of the sociology of knowledge as ct flawed sub-discipline.
- Klausner, SZ. 1998. "E. Digby Baltzell: Moral Rhetoric and Research Methodology." Sociological Theory. 16:2 149-171.
- The ways in which values are assimilated to social research differ according to the theoretical frame of reference informing the research. An example from the writings of E. Digby Baltzell illustrates how a moral commitment shaped his assumptions al,out the nature of the social matrix and his research strategies. A Western moral rhetoric fares well if the researcher chooses a methodologically individualist framework. The framework assists a moral rhetoric by providing it with concrete rather than abstract social actors and with a basis for explanation in terms of motive rather than situational forces. Along the way moral statements can appear in the form of empirical generalizations and historical laws. Should sociologists deem ethically neutral social research desirable, this study suggests that concentration on scientific method, without exploring the value bases for selecting a frame of reference, is not a promising approach. A value analysis, especially around Weber's ``value relevance,'' may function propaedeuticly.
- Burawoy, M. 1998. "The Extended Case Method." Sociological Theory. 16:1 4-33.
- In this article I elaborate and codify the extended case method. which deploys participant observation to locate everyday life in its extralocal and historical context. The extended case method emulates a reflexive model of science that takes as its premise the intersubjectivity of scientist and subject of study: Reflexive science valorizes intervention, process, structuration, and theory reconstruction. It is the Siamese twin of positive science that proscribes reactivity but upholds reliability replicability, and representativeness. Positive science, exemplified by survey research, works on the principle of the separation between scientists and the subjects they examine. Positive science is limited by ``context effects'' (interview: respondent, field, and situational effects) while reflex ive science is limited by ``power effects'' (domination, silencing, objectification, and normalization). The article concludes by considering the implications of having two models of science rather than one, both of which are necessarily flawed. Throughout I use a study of postcolonialism to illustrate both the virtues and the shortcomings of the extended case method. Methodology can only bring us reflective understanding of the means which have demonstrated their value in practice by raising them to the level of explicit consciousness; it is no more the precondition of fruitful intellectual work than the knowledge of anatomy is the precondition of ``correct'' walking.
- Schwinn, T. 1998. "False Connections: Systems and Action Theories in Neofunctionalism and in Jurgen Habermas." Sociological Theory. 16:1 75-95.
- Recent theoretical discussions have served to bridge the gap separating systems- and action-theoretical approaches; however the question of their basic compatibility; has rarely been raised This paper takes up two efforts at linking systems and action theory: those of neofunctionalists and those of Jurgen Habermas. Neofunctionalists start from the inadequacies of systems functionalism and seek to open it to the theory of action. Habermas. on the other hand, seeks to overcome the limits of the theory of action by widening its scope in systems-theoretical terms. Successful synthesis eludes both efforts. either the status of voluntaristic aspects is so enhanced that the systemic whole and its functional imperatives practically vanish, or too much emphasis is placed on the systemic aspect, reducing actors to the mere executing agents of systemic needs. The combination, of theories of structure and action provides a way old of this dilemma.
- Dahms, HF. 1997. "Theory in Weberian Marxism: Patterns of Critical Social Theory in Lukacs and Habermas." Sociological Theory. 15:3 181-214.
- For Weberian Marxists, the social theories of Max Weber and Karl Marx are complementary, contributions to the analysis of modern capitalist society. Combining Weber's theory of rationalization with Marx's critique of commodity fetishism to develop his own critique of reification, Georg Lukacs contended that the combination of Marx's and Weber's social theories is essential to envisioning socially transformative modes of praxis in advanced capitalist society. By comparing Lukacs's theory of reification with Habermas's theory of communicative action as two theories in the tradition of Weberian Marxism, I show how the prevailing mode of ``doing theory'' has shifted from Marx's critique of economic deter terminism to Weber's idea of the inner logic of social value spheres. Today, Weberian Marxism can make an important contribution to theoretical sociology by reconstituting itself as a framework for critically examining prevailing societal definitions of the rationalization imperatives specific to purposive-rational social value spheres (the economy, the administrative state, etc.). In a second step, Weberian Marxists would explore how these value spheres relate to Each other and to value spheres that are open to the type of communicative rationalization characteristic of the lifeworld level of social organization.
- Delanty, G. 1997. "Habermas and Occidental Rationalism: the Politics of Identity, Social Learning, and the Cultural Limits of Moral Universalism." Sociological Theory. 15:1 30-59.
- While Habermas's theory of communicative action is deeply critical of all kinds of ethnocentrism, proposing a discursive concept of universal morality which transcends culture, a residual Eurocentrism still pervades it. habermas's theory rests on a notion of modernity which is tied to Occidental rationalism, and when viewed in the global context or in the context of deeply divided societies it is problematic. The theory fails to grasp that universal morality can be articulated in more than one cultural form and in more than one logic of development. However, his theory can be defended against its Eurocentric bias if it shifts its emphasis from a de-contexualized and transcendental critique of communication rooted in Occidental rationalism to a cosmopolitan model of contemporary cultural transformation. Crucial to that task is a weaker notion of rationality which recognizes that the problem of universality is also a cognitive cultural problem and not just a normative one. Bringing culture and identity to the foreground will involve making room for a level of discourse focused less on consensual agreement than on cultural understanding.
- Emirbayer, M. 1996. "Useful Durkheim." Sociological Theory. 14:2 109-130.
- From the mid-1960s through much of the 1980s, Durkheim's contributions to historical-comparative sociology were decidedly marginalized; the title of one of Charles Tilly's essays, ``Useless Durkheim,'' conveys this prevailing sensibility with perfect clarity. Here, ky contrast, I draw upon writings from Durkheim's later ``religious'' period to show how Durkheim has special relevance today for debates in the historical-comparative field. I examine how his substantive writings shed light on current discussions regarding civil society; how his analytical insights help to show how action within civil society as well as other historical contexts is channelled by cultural, social-structural, and social-psychological configurations (plus transformative human agency); and how his ontological commitment to a ``relational social realisin'' contributes to ongoing attempts to rethink the foundations of historical-comparative investigation.
- Lichterman, P. 1995. "Beyond the Seesaw Model: Public Commitment in a Culture of Self-fulfillment." Sociological Theory. 13:3 275-300.
- Communitarian sociological theory and research of the past 30 years has often assumed that a growing culture of self-fulfillment, or `'personalism,'' is ultimately incompatible with commitment to the public good. This article argues that this `'seesaw model'' does not exhaust the possible relations between personalism and public commitment. It borrows insights from radical democratic theories to argue the existence of a form of public commitment that is enacted through, rather than impeded by, personalism. A cultural analysis that highlights everyday practices enables us to conceptualize this personalized form of public commitment, which goes unrecognized in communitarian accounts, and which gets discussed only in formal theoretical or social-psychological, terms in radical democratic theories. A case example of personalized public commitment in recent grass-roots environmentalism illustrates the limits in the seesaw model and speaks back to radical democratic theories of public commitment by illuminating how the individualized commitment they theorize may work in everyday cultural practice. I conclude with suggestions for further theoretical work on personalism.