Contemporary articles citing Habermas J (1989) Structural Transform
public, cultural, action, sphere, political, society, his, civil, understanding, habermas's
- Adut, Ari. 2012. "A Theory of the Public Sphere." Sociological Theory. 30:4 238-262.
- The dominant approach to the public sphere is characterized by idealism and normativism. It overemphasizes civic-minded or civil discourse, envisions unrealistically egalitarian and widespread participation, has difficulty dealing with consequential public events, and neglects the spatial core of the public sphere and the effects of visibility. I propose a semiotic theory that approaches the public sphere through general sensory access. This approach enables a superior understanding of all public events, discursive or otherwise. It also captures the dialectical relationship between the public sphere and politics by (1) specifying the mechanisms through which visibility and publicity become resources or constraints for political actors, (2) explaining the political regulation of visibility, (3) showing the central role that struggles over the contents of public spaces play in political conflict, and (4) analyzing the links among social structure, social norms, and political action in the transformation of the public sphere.
- Hart-Brinson, Peter. 2012. "Civic Recreation and a Theory of Civic Production." Sociological Theory. 30:2 130-147.
- The debate on civic decline inspired by Putnam's ``bowling alone'' thesis exposed an important limitation in three dominant conceptions of the civic. Whether conceptualized as a locus, type, or motivation for action, the boundaries distinguishing the civic from other categories of political action are permeable and indistinct. This article develops a theory of civic production to better account for the inherent normativity and ``porousness'' of this analytic category. I conceptualize the civic as a variable, contingent outcome or product of a contentious performance undertaken in some venue for some reason. The phenomenon of ``civic recreation,'' a form of fund-raising that combines a leisure activity with a public cause, underscores the necessity of a theory of civic production. I draw from social movement theory and from ethnographic data from one fitness fund-raiser to illustrate some of the key processes and outcomes for which a theory of civic production must account.
- Fine, Gary. 2010. "The Sociology of the Local: Action and Its Publics." Sociological Theory. 28:4 355-376.
- Sociology requires a robust theory of how local circumstances create social order. When we analyze social structures not recognizing that they depend on groups with collective pasts and futures that are spatially situated and that are based on personal relations, we avoid a core sociological dimension: the importance of local context in constituting social worlds. Too often this has been the sociological stance, both in micro-sociological studies that examine interaction as untethered from local traditions and in research that treats culture as autonomous from action and choice. Building on theories of action, group dynamics, and micro-cultures, I argue that a sociology of the local solves critical theoretical problems. The local is a stage on which social order gets produced and a lens for understanding how particular forms of action are selected. Treating ethnographic studies as readings of ongoing cultures, I examine how the continuing and referential features of group life (spatial arenas, relations, shared pasts) generate action and argue that local practices provide the basis for cultural extension, influencing societal expectations through the linkages among groups.
- Kumar, Krishan & Ekaterina Makarova. 2008. "The Portable Home: the Domestication of Public Space." Sociological Theory. 26:4 324-343.
- Much commentary indicates that, starting from the 19th century, the home has become the privileged site of private life. In doing so it has established an increasingly rigid separation between the private and public spheres. This article does not disagree with this basic conviction. But we argue that, in more recent times, there has been a further development, in that the private life of the home has been carried into the public sphere-what we call ``the domestication of public space.'' This has led to a further attenuation of public life, especially as regards sociability. It has also increased the perception that what is required is a better ``balance'' between public and private. We argue that this misconstrues the nature of the relation of public to private in those periods that attained the greatest degree of sociability, and that not ``balance'' but ``reciprocity'' is the desired condition.
- Jacobs, Ronald & Sarah Sobieraj. 2007. "Narrative and Legitimacy: Us Congressional Debates About the Nonprofit Sector." Sociological Theory. 25:1 1-25.
- This article develops a theory about the narrative foundations of public policy. Politicians draw on specific types of narratives in order to connect the policies they are proposing, the needs of the public, and their own needs for legitimacy. In particular, politicians are drawn to policy narratives in which they themselves occupy the central and heroic character position, and where they are able to protect the scope of their jurisdictional authority. We demonstrate how this works through a historical analysis of congressional debate about the nonprofit sector in the United States. Two competing narratives framed these debates: (1) a selfless charity narrative, in which politicians try to empower heroic charity workers and philanthropists, and then stay out of the way; and (2) a masquerade narrative, in which fake charities are taking advantage of the nonprofit tax exemption, in order to pursue a variety of noncivic and dangerous activities. Members of Congress quickly adopted the masquerade narrative as the dominant framework for discussing the nonprofit sector because it provided a more powerful and flexible rhetoric for reproducing their political legitimacy. By developing innovative elaborations of the masquerade narrative (i.e., identifying new categories of ``false heroes''), while remaining faithful to its underlying narrative format, politicians were able to increase the persuasive impact of their legislative agendas. We argue that the narrative aspects of political debate are a central component of the policy-making process because they link cultural and political interests in a way that involves the mastery of cultural structure as well as the creativity of cultural performance.
- 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.
- Alexander, JC. 2004. "Cultural Pragmatics: Social Performance Between Ritual and Strategy." Sociological Theory. 22:4 527-573.
- Front its very beginnings, the social study of culture has been polarized between structuralist theories that treat meaning as a text and investigate the patterning that provides relative autonomy and pragmatist theories that treat meaning as emerging from the contingencies of individual and collective action-so-called practices-and that analyze cultural patterns as reflections of power and material interest. In this article, I present a theory of cultural pragmatics that transcends this division, bringing meaning structures, contingency, power, and materiality together in a new way. My argument is that the materiality of practices should be replaced by the more multidimensional concept Of performances. Drawing on the new field of performance studies, cultural pragmatics demonstrates how social performances, whether individual or collective, can be analogized systematically to theatrical ones. After defining the elements of social performance, I suggest that these elements have become ``de-fased'' as societies have become more complex. Performances are successful only insofar as they can ``re-fuse'' these increasingly disentangled elements. In a fused performance, audiences identify with actors, and cultural effective mise-en-scene. Performances fail when this scripts achieve verisimilitude through rethinking process is incomplete: the elements of performance remain, apart, and social action seems inauthentic and artificial, failing to persuade. Refusion, by contrast, allows actors to communicate the meanings of their actions successfully and thus to pursue their interests effectively.
- 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.
- Rabinovitch, E. 2001. "Gender and the Public Sphere: Alternative Forms of Integration in Nineteenth-century America." Sociological Theory. 19:3 344-370.
- This paper intends to evaluate two competing models of multicultural integration in stratified societies: the ``multiple publics'' model of Nancy Fraser and the ``fragmented public sphere'' model of Jeffrey Alexander. Fraser and Alexander disagree oil whether or not claims to a general ``common good'' or ``common humanity'' are democratically legitimate in light of systemic inequality. Fraser rejects the idea that cultural integration can be democratic in conditions of social inequality, while Alexander accepts it and tries to explain how it may be realized. In order to address this debate, I analyze the cultural foundations of the female-led, maternally themed social movements of nineteenth-century America. The language of these movements supports Alexander's position over Fraser's, though it also suggests that Alexander is mistaken in the specifics of his cultural theory of a general and democratic ``common good.'' While Alexander's model of integration is structured uniquely by what he and Philip Smith have called ``the discourse of civil society,'' the evidence suggests a distinctly alternative, equally democratic code at play in this case, which I have labeled a discourse of affection and compassion.
- Alexander, JC. 2001. "The Long and Winding Road: Civil Repair of Intimate Injustice." Sociological Theory. 19:3 371-400.
- Strydom, P. 2001. "The Problem of Triple Contingency in Habermas." Sociological Theory. 19:2 165-186.
- From a certain perspective, Habermas's theory of communicative action is a response, in extension of Mead, Schutz, and Parsons, to the risk of dissension posed by double contingency. Starting from double contingency, both The Theory of Communicative Action and Between Facts and Norms are essentially an elaboration of a solution to this problem in terms of a more fully developed theory of communication than had been available to his predecessors. Given the intense concentration and the immense expenditure of energy on the working out of the coordinating accomplishments and structures required by the complex solution envisaged by him, it is unsurprising that Habermas overlooks the next most important problems intermittently raised by the theory of communicative action, namely, the problem of ``triple contingency,'' that is, the contingency that the public brings into the social process. This has far-reaching implications for Habermas's place in the sociological tradition and for the relation of the younger generation to him. Because of his continued search for a solution to a problem posed in the classical phase of sociology and his concomitant failure to develop the new problem that he himself raised in the course of so doing, he can be classified with Parsons as being a neoclassical sociologist. He nevertheless bequeaths a serious problem to contemporary sociology.
- Ku, AS. 2000. "Revisiting the Notion of ``public'' in Habermas's Theory - Toward a Theory of Politics of Public Credibility." Sociological Theory. 18:2 216-240.
- There exist around the notion of the public three different yet overlapping dichotomies posed on different levels of analysis: public (sphere) versus private (sphere), public versus mass, and publicness versus privacy/secrecy. Habermas's book (1989) incorporates all the three sets of dichotomy without resolving the contradictory meanings and bridging the gaps among them. As a result, his conception of the public sphere becomes paradoxical in terms, and it undertheorizes the cultural properties of publicness. This article proposes all alternative conception of the public that may encompass the structural, institutional, and cultural levels of theorization in a more precise and coherent way. It is argued that the public is an imagined category about citizen membership that is attached to both institutions of state and civil society: In political practices, a symbolic ``public'' is institutionalized through an open communicative space where it is called upon, constructed, and contested as the central source of cultural references. In this connection, a notion of public credibility is introduced as an attempt to bring forth a richer and more dynamic conception about the role of culture in democratic struggles than that of critical rationality by Habermas.
- Ku, AS. 1998. "Boundary Politics in the Public Sphere: Openness, Secrecy, and Leak." Sociological Theory. 16:2 172-192.
- The issue of openness/secrecy has nor received adequate attention in attention discussion on the public sphere. Drawing on ideas in critical theory, political sociology, and cultural sociology. this article explores the cultural and political dynamics involved in the public sphere in modem society vis-a-vis is the practice of open/secret politics by the state. It argues that the media, due to their publicist quality are situated at the interface between publicity and secrecy which thereby allows for struggles over the boundary of state openness/secrecy in the public sphere. A theory of boundary, politics is introduced that is contextualized In the relationship among state forms, the means of making power visible/invisible (media strategies), and symbolic as well as discursive practices in the public sphere. In explaining the dynamics of boundary politics over openness/secrecy three ideal-types of boundary creation are conceptualized: open politics, secrecy and leak. The theory is illustrated with a case study of the Patten controversy in Hong Kong.
- 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.
- Eliasoph, N. 1996. "Making a Fragile Public: a Talk-centered Study of Citizenship and Power." Sociological Theory. 14:3 262-289.
- Understanding how citizens create contexts for open-ended political conversation in everyday life is an important task for social research, The lack of theoretical attention to political conversation in the current renaissance of studies of ``civil society'' and ``the public sphere'' precludes a thoroughly social understanding of civic life. Participant-observation in U.S. recreational, volunteer, and activist groups shows how the very act of speaking itself comes to mean different things in different civic contexts. It shows dramatic contextual shifts-the more public the context, the less public-spirited the discourse. Institutions encouraged groups to avoid public, political conversation. One group challenged the dominant etiquette for citizenship; the others considered talking politics ``out of place'' almost everywhere. The ways groups relate to public speech itself are themselves meaningful; the concept of ``civic practices'' highlights how groups develop not just the power to make a particular political program public, but the power to make the public itself.
- 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.
- Somers, MR. 1995. "Narrating and Naturalizing Civil Society and Citizenship Theory: the Place of Political Culture and the Public Sphere." Sociological Theory. 13:3 229-274.
- The English translation of Habermas's The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere converges with the revival of the `'political culture concept'' in the social sciences. Surprisingly Habermas's account of the Western bourgeois public sphere has much in common with the original political culture concept associated with Parsonian modernization theory in the 1950s and 1960s. In both cases, the concept of political culture is used in a way that is neither political nov cultural. Explaining this peculiarity is the central problem addressed in this article and its companion piece, which appeared in Sociological Theory, volume 3, number 2 (1995). I hypothesize that this is the case because the concept itself is embedded in an historically constituted political culture (here called a conceptual network)-a structured web of conceptual relationships that combine into Angle-American citizenship theory. The method of an historical sociology of concept formation is used to analyze historically and empirically the internal constraints and dynamics of this conceptual network. The method draws from new work in cultural history and sociology, social studies, and network, narrative, and institutional analysis. This research yields three empirical findings: this conceptual network has a narrative structure, here called the Angle-American citizenship story; this narrative is grafted onto an epistemology of social naturalism; and these elements combine in a metanarrative that continues to constrain empirical research in political sociology.