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Chapter 8: The Critical Theory of Jurgen Habermas

Chapter 8: The Critical Theory of Jurgen Habermas

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Chapter 8: The Critical Theory of Jurgen Habermas

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  1. Chapter 8: The Critical Theory of JurgenHabermas • In Knowledge and Human Interests (1971), Habermas argues for revitalizing critical theory after the Marxist failure of a revolution in the West by arguing that reason and knowledge is never innocent and is always interested. • But, there are different interests behind different types of knowledge. Different knowledges serve different social spheres of development. • He wants to show how "interested" knowledge does not just mean knowledge that serves one person's needs at the expense of someone else’s, but that there are certain interests embedded in knowledge that serve certain universal interests.

  2. Chapter 8: The Critical Theory of JurgenHabermas • The Three Knowledges and their Three Interests 1.) technical human interests -----> empirical-analytical sciences • It's not that Marx was wrong, only that he was limited. Of course, humans do have a material relationship with nature and each other, but it's not the only relationship. To control nature, humans develop knowledge that will reproduce labor relations, which will help us control nature and use it to our own ends. This is a universal interest. 2.) practical cognitive interests ----> historical, interpretive and cultural sciences • In order to master nature, we also have to cooperate with each other. We have to communicate, and we have to believe that we share a common world. We have to do this in order to meet certain practical needs, to accomplish certain tasks. 3.) emancipatory interests ------> critical theory • We have an interest, a universal interest, in being free, autonomous beings, self-directing. Critical theory unveils unnecessary internal (psychological) and external (social or environmental constraints) on human action. • This is the most important interest and knowledge since it also foundational to the other two types of interests and knowledges.

  3. Chapter 8: The Critical Theory of JurgenHabermas • In Theory of Communicative Action (1984-7), Habermas argues that since all human action involves language, which is based in social interaction, there is embedded in every single utterance the desire on the part of the speaker to be understood and the desire on the part of the listener to understand. • Speaking involves the testing of "validity" claims. Is this true? If it's not true, why isn't it? • For him, the ideal speech situation is a social condition in which the parties to a public discourse are in a situation of equality and autonomy; it is where understanding (or consensus) can be reached. • The point of all of this is that democracy (consensus building) is embedded in human language practices themselves.

  4. Chapter 9: Stuart Hall and British Cultural Studies • Stuart Hall participated in the establishment of the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies. • The cultural turn of the Birmingham school emphasized a view of cultural study as less focused on high culture and instead emphasized culture in its popular forms and in its broadest sense as referring to language in use and the meanings, symbols, and interpretations of reality that are a part of social life.

  5. Chapter 9: Stuart Hall and British Cultural Studies • Hall and the Birmingham school emphasized the study of culture as a threefold process • Examine the meaning processes of cultural producers to interpret their intents • Examine the cultural codes and their meanings within their social and historical contexts and power relations • Examine how cultural products are received by consumers (i.e., reception studies), showing that individuals take an active role in interpreting the meanings of cultural codes

  6. Chapter 10: The Critical Sociology of Anthony Giddens and Pierre Bourdieu • Giddens develops a structuration theory of social life that emphasizes the “duality of structure” through the concept of social practices or action. • For him, social structures are both the medium of action or make action possible and are also reproduced by social action. • Arguing against positivist and functionalist perspectives, Giddens says that reflexivity is part of both an individual’s agency and social institutions.

  7. Chapter 10: The Critical Sociology of Anthony Giddens and Pierre Bourdieu • In pre-modern societies, “tradition” guided everyday conduct; there was little reflexivity in agents actions and social institutions • These societies were strongly based in collective authority • In modern societies, social practices are constantly revised in light of new information, a process of ongoing reflection or knowledge production is an institutionalized part of social practice • Modern institutional practices are aimed at gaining knowledge and reflecting on it to enhance performance • Reflexivity is key in modernity for both individuals and institutions

  8. Chapter 10: The Critical Sociology of Anthony Giddens and Pierre Bourdieu • In Distinction (1984), Pierre Bourdieu explains that individuals are always structurally located in a multidimensional social space, broadly defined in terms of social class . •  He says that social class position is based on different form of capital: • Social capital is composed of one’s positions and relationships in social networks (e.g., weak ties are good for job networking). • Cultural capital is based on one’s educational credentials, informal interpersonal skills, tastes, lifestyle habits, manners, and linguistic style. • Economic capital is the basic Marxian idea of wage labor, private property and assets or wealth income, assets, property

  9. Chapter 10: The Critical Sociology of Anthony Giddens and Pierre Bourdieu • For Bourdieu, habitus is the concept that connects agency and structure and reflects one’s various amounts of economic, cultural and social capital. • Habitus refers to interpretive schemas, largely unconscious or tacitly at work, that tell us how the world works, how to evaluate things, and provides guidelines of action; it is not a set of rigid rules but a set of guidelines one uses to strategize, accommodate to new situations, and innovate in one’s practices.   • It is both a product of social structures and itself a structure generative of social practices that reproduce social structures. •  People make different distinctions based on their different habitus statuses. • A distinction is a logic of vision and division that divides lifestyle (taste )preferences into superior and inferior categories, reinforcing hierarchies of class domination in the very act. • Bourdieu argues that distinction is the key principle of social life.

  10. Chapter 11: Post-Structural Theory: Derrida, Lyotard, and Baudrillard • Jacques Derrida pioneered the “method” of deconstruction or undoing the hierarchical relationship between binary terms that have organized Western thought and philosophy • Derrida shows that binary oppositions, such as presence/absence, speech/writing, man/woman, or reason/intuition are organized to privilege the first term as superior and the second term as an inferior or poor copy of the first • Through deconstruction, Derrida shows that the idea of men as associated with reason and women as associated with intuition in cultural thought reinforces inequalities • He deconstructs or unmasks this relationship by showing how its based on a falsifying logic • However, instead of reversing the relationship, which would just reinforce a new hierarchy, he seeks to undo and displace the power relationship associated within the binary relationship

  11. Chapter 11: Post-Structural Theory: Derrida, Lyotard, and Baudrillard • In The Postmodern Condition (1984), Jean-Francois-Lytoard argues that scientific knowledge is the exemplary discourse of truth and he states that a postmodern position is defined as a critique and skepticism toward “metanarratives” of scientific knowledge. • All knowledge, including science, has a social basis and is supported by the shared culture of the society in which that knowledge is produced. • Metanarratives refer to foundational theories (of knowledge, morality, and aesthetics) and grand stories of social progress which have been central to the legitimation of modern knowledge, culture, and social institutions. • Lyotard says that there are two ways for social science knowledge to shape society: (1) the social sciences can be seen as instruments of bureaucratic social control , or (2) in an world increasingly perceived as unstable and unpredictable, it can lead to the view of knowledge as incomplete, limited, and uncertain

  12. Chapter 11: Post-Structural Theory: Derrida, Lyotard, and Baudrillard • Reversing Marxist economic determinism, Jean Baudrillard argues that society is structured by symbolic meanings or a linguistic systems of signs. • In pre-modern societies, the sign had a clear referent and a context-specific meaning. Communication in pre-modern societies was immediate, direct, and reciprocal, lacking mediating structures like markets and mass media • Modern and postmodern societies entail 2 shifts in the role of the sign: (1) the relationship between sign and reality is disturbed; and (2) the sign forms a “code” that standardizes meaning • The postmodern age is the age of the “simulacrum.” Simulacra are signs that function as copies of real objects and events. • Simulacra then start to no longer (re)present a copy of the world but they create or “simulate” the idea of a reality which they simultaneously claim to represent • Simulations have no referent in any reality outside themselves • For example, reality television shows are viewed as more real than the reality they are supposed to represent or the identities of celebrities become inseparable from the characters they play in movies or TV shows.

  13. Chapter 12: Michel Foucault’s Disciplinary Society • In Discipline and Punish: the Birth of the Prison (1978), Foucault describes a shift in power from a juridical model to a disciplinary one. • Juridical power is the kind of power kings had. It is power that is held by one person or one body (the king, the monarchy, the aristocracy) and is lorded over others. For example, it’s used to bend the will of one person to the will of another. • In contrast, disciplinary power is more invasive. It is a kind of power which takes as its aim not only normalizing and reinforcing those in power or with privilege in society (the way that juridical power does), but it also aims to attach meanings to specific types of individuals to control them. • Disciplinary power would not be possible without the discourses of the human science (e.g., criminology, psychology, sociology, anthropology, etc.).

  14. Chapter 12: Michel Foucault’s Disciplinary Society • Disciplinary power has 5 principles (Rabinow 1984): • Spacialization -- everyone has a place that indicates what type of person he/she is. For example, there are different wards in a prison or in a mental hospital which indicate how criminal or how insane someone is). The spatial organization of individuals becomes very important in disciplinary forms of power. • Minute Control of Activity -- the details of everyday life in social institutions are planned out to the last minute. • Repetitive Exercises – standardization of routines and making the body repeat activities in a way which they become routine • Detailed Hierarchies -- a complex chain of authority and training, where individuals at higher levels keep watch over other individuals at lower ranks. Surveillance of bodies by others and sooner or later disciplining one’s self becomes taken for granted • Normalizing Judgments -- All of these four principles serve to create a complex matrix/web of meanings around what is to be taken "normal" behavior for individuals and what is taken to be abnormal behavior

  15. Chapter 13: Zygmunt Bauman’s Sociology of Postmodernity • For Bauman, modern and postmodern societies are in a relationship of antagonism • In modern societies, a multileveled system of control, from the law to the ,aims to consolidate the power of economic, political and military forces • In contrast, postmodern society is not a complete break from modernity but represents marginal aspects of it, specifically it is opposed to the uniform, controlling forms of power promoted through notions of universal humanity, for example • Postmodernity champions pluralistic forms of humanity, multiple traditions, communities and cultures • If modernity is focused on order, uniformity, and universality, postmodernity is focused on the contingent and transitory, diversity, and particularity.

  16. Chapter 14: Feminist and Gender Theory • A gynocentric or women-centered standpoint in social theory is meant to give an explanation of how gender shapes the social world •  Dorothy Smith's work is a critique of the absence of a gender as a central theoretical category in sociology. • She argues that knowledge functions as a social force (knowledge is part of the interpretation and reproduction of the world). • The silence regarding women's issues in sociology has therefore been part of women's oppression. • Smith and other feminist seek to develop alternative, women-centered sociological knowledges, which specifically address issues of gender, male dominance, etc.

  17. Chapter 14: Feminist and Gender Theory • For Smith, sociology is a set of texts that treat knowledge objectively, impersonally, anonymous ,and, in doing so, do not pay attention to the specificities of the real conditions of people's lives. •  This is because sociology is based in male conceptual values (i.e., objectivity). • Smith develop a sociological theory of women, • That is, women because of their social positioning can offer a unique standpoint from which to view the social world. • Women share a core set of experiences, attitudes, beliefs, which are shaped by their location in the private, domestic sphere, and which give them a different set of conceptual values than those of men. •  Instead of beginning with abstract, objectified categories, which is the way male-centered sociology does, a sociology from the standpoint of women begins with women's actual lived experiences, in their local settings, social relations, and daily activities as the starting point for social knowledge. •  Feminist knowledge, unlike male-centered sociology, would be openly interested (not value free); it would take into account the formative experiences of gendered subjectivities.

  18. Chapter 14: Feminist and Gender Theory • In The Reproduction of Mothering: Psychoanalysis and the Sociology of Gender (1978), Nancy Chodorow argues that women’s mothering creates Oedipal asymmetries in how boys and girls and later adult men and women seek sex, love and express or don’t express emotions and feelings. • Following Freud, she says that boys have one primary love object, their mother, and this means masculine heterosexual object choice is relatively unobstructed and continuous. • A boy’s Oedipus complex is resolved through repressing his attachment to his mother and transferring it to a another women due to his internalization of the father’s rule and castration anxiety •  Departing from Freud, Chodorow argues that girls heterosexual object choice is more complicated than boys. Her first object is her mother, a woman (meaning a homosexual object choice) and to reach heterosexuality, she must then transfer her primary object choice to her father and later othermen. • However, girls do not suppress their identification with their mothers and take the father into the configuration as at most equal to their mothers. • Due to men’s suppression of femininity, which is typically identified with a relation centered self and emotionality, women find relationships with men lacking emotional depth. • A knot occurs in heterosexual relationships. Men want a primary relationship but fear it while women want an emotional relationship but don’t get it from men and turn to other women friends and family members as well as their children for it.

  19. Chapter 14: Feminist and Gender Theory • In Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (1990), Judith Butler understands gender not as an expression of one’s natural inner self or a product of one’s psyche, but rather as a performance of fantasies of gender roles that society enforces. • Through socialization and the reinforcement by family and others, people learn how to construct their gender through how they talk, walk, dress, etc. • This theory is exemplified by drag queens. A person in drag is able to perform a gender that does match their genitals; further, sexuality is then separate from both gender and one’s genitals due to the contradictions of the performance. • For example, a man dressed and acting as a woman attempts to achieve a female gendered performance while still having a penis. This man may then be homosexual or heterosexual, which has nothing to do with the gender of the performance or the genitals that he/she has. • The point of the drag example for Butler is that every man and women performs a gender performance through the unconscious and conscious enactments of gender norms and conventions • Gender performances are not then based on sex (male/female), which is typically viewed as constructing gender (masculinity/femininity) and creating a heterosexual identity for masculine males and feminine females • Sex, gender and sexuality are each distinct social processes

  20. Chapter 15: Critical Race Theory • Molefi Asante and Afrocentrism • Asante is critical of the Enlightenment, which he sees as the roots of Eurocentric cultural and social perspectives that exclude African values from the dominant paradigms of Western thought. • Why? Because in order for the West (Europe) to see itself as modern, enlightened, and progressive, it had to see its other (the East and Africa) as "primitive" or backward • Eurocentrism excludes the experiences and history of African Americans in knowledge production: 2 examples are positivism and materialism in scientific knowledge • Positivism -- the scientific method and its claim to objectivity aim for universal principles that aren’t actually universal; they're Eurocentric • Materialism --has its roots with Aristotle, who saw behavior purely as a function of the body, that nothing goes beyond what the body does. The mind is a function of the body. •  How is the African perspective different? It emphasizes harmony, unity, spirituality • In the West, laws aims to punish the guilty, to make an example out of them, to reform them. African cultures seek to restore communal balance and peace. • Again, in the West, there is always a strong distinction between the speaker and the audience, with the speaker being the focus of attention. In African communal gatherings and speeches, the audience participates in the event, no one person has sole authority • Asante says that African speech embodies a kind of rhythm that is indicative of Africans' ties to harmony and spiritual unity. For example, he says this tradition has been inherited by African-American churches in the US.

  21. Chapter 16: Lesbian, Gay, and Queer Theory • In “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence,” Adrienne Rich (1980) argues that heterosexuality is a political institution that acts through systematic norms which exclude, erase and make invisible lesbian existence and women’s bonds. • Rich argues that this norm organizes society and reinforces male domination through a multifarious number of ways, from popular culture’s idealizing of heterosexual romance and weddings to sex stratification in employment to women’s subordination and the “second shift” in the family. • Her concept of compulsory heterosexuality is meant to show how entrenched the norm of heterosexuality is in society and its delegitimating power in erasing lesbians’ lives and the strong, myriad bonds between women, which she refers to as the lesbian continuum. • Rich’s conception of compulsory heterosexuality as political is important in highlighting how it is not only a norm but a normative norm which creates hierarchies between heterosexuals and non-heterosexuals, making the former the idealized sexuality while the later is despised and made non-existent.

  22. Chapter 16: Lesbian, Gay, and Queer Theory • Queer theorists, like Diana Fuss, in Inside out (1991), argue that the heterosexual/homosexual binary is based on a related opposition between inside/outside. Homosexuality, in discourse, is both inside heterosexuality, since it is part of the binary opposition, and it is outside of heterosexuality since it is not heterosexuality. • Historians like Jonathan Katz, in “The Invention of Heterosexuality” (1995), took the scholarship of queer theorists like Diana Fuss into a socio-historical direction by providing a theory of heterosexual identity and its institutionalization. • Katz argues that heterosexuality is not an unchanging, universal, or essential, development. Rather, it is a social formation with specific historical processes that can be traced in history and culture. • The idea of heterosexuality is a modern invention, which dates to the late 19th century. Katz dual historical focus looks at heterosexuality as an ideology as well as a process by which heterosexuality became constituted as an identity and institution. • His work is an important corrective to gay and lesbian research that unwittingly valorized and reinforced heterosexuality as the natural and normal compliment to an abnormal homosexuality by virtue of leaving heterosexuality’s social constructed nature unexamined, unanalyzed, and thus a historical universal.

  23. Chapter 17: Colonial Discourse Studies • In Frantz Fanon’s view, violence is a central feature of colonialism. Both physical violence and cultural and psychological violence. • There is the violence the colonizers perpetrate on the bodies of the colonized, (e.g. practices of imprisonment, torture, beatings, rape, starvation, and genocide). • Colonial domination perpetrates violence against native culture, suppressing their history and customs and forcing the colonized to adopt the culture of the rulers, as native beliefs are dismissed as backward and primitive.

  24. Chapter 17: Colonial Discourse Studies • In Orientialism (1978), Edward Said argues that that the construction of colonizer and colonized depended on the very invention of the West and East in modern Western thought as supposedly naturally different geographical-civilizational complexes. • Said calls the network of discourses, representations, knowledges, and folk beliefs that constructed and constructs the West and East as geo-politically and culturally distinct oppositional “Orientalism.” • This construction views the West as rational, promoting individualism, democracy, and social progress. By contrast, Western thinkers agreed that the East was socially backward, despotic or child-like and incapable of advancement and progress. • Often the inferiority of the Orient was understood in racial and gender terms. The Oriental was imagined as nonwhite and “primitive” and/or associated with stereotypical feminine traits such as passivity, indecision, childlikeness, and the ornamental.