Breaking the Siege

  • Gustavo Pereira
Part of the Philosophy and Politics - Critical Explorations book series (PPCE, volume 9)


This chapter aims to identify possible ways to counteract the influence of social pathologies on our practical life. To this end, I will propose interventions through social institutions to help transform or modify the most vulnerable aspects of our practical life. Such interventions should focus on shared practices that have an impact on how we conceive ourselves, the social world in which we work and the relationships we establish with others. In particular, I will propose that strengthening practical life in social spaces mediated by intersubjectivity is the best way to recover the intense exercise of the imagination that operates as a condition of possibility for humans to exercise autonomy and reflection. This intense exercise is the best way to face and counteract the effects of social pathologies. The spaces of social action considered are those connected with the concepts of civil society, democratic ethical life and social institutions, because it is through them that we can introduce normative friction, thus triggering reflective processes. This way of counteracting social pathologies from the dialogical exchanges that take place in the non-deformed public spaces of civil society can be understood as an effect of the power that emerges in this type of interactions, which in Habermasian terms is called “communicative power”.


Intersubjectivity Civil society Democratic ethical life Normative friction Reflective processes Communicative power 


  1. Angella, Marco. 2016. Work, Recognition and Subjectivity: Relocating the Connection Between Work and Social Pathologies. European Journal of Social Philosophy 19 (3): 340–354.Google Scholar
  2. Arendt, Hannah. 1998. The Human Condition. Chicago: Chicago University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barthes, Roland. 1975. An Introduction to the Structural Analysis of Narrative. Trans. Lionel Duisit. New Literary History 6(2): 237–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cohen, Jean L., and Andrew Arato. 1992. Civil Society and Political Theory. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  5. Cortina, Adela. 1998. Sociedad civil. In Diez palabras clave en Filosofía Política. Madrid: EVD.Google Scholar
  6. Elster, Jon. 1983. Sour Grapes: Studies in the Subversion of Rationality. Paris/Cambridge: Maison des Sciences de l’Homme-Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. ———. 2000. Ulysses Unbound. Studies in Rationality, Precommitment, and Constraints. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Escobar, Agustín, and Mercedes Gonzalez de la Rocha. 2003. Evaluación cualitativa del programa de desarrollo humano oportunidades: siguimiento de impacto 2001–2002, comunidades de 2,500 a 50,000 habitantes. México: Secretaría de Desarrollo Social.Google Scholar
  9. Franzen, Jonathan. 2010. Freedom. New York: Picador.Google Scholar
  10. Gadamer, Hans Georg. 1989. Truth and Method, 2nd Rev ed. Trans. Rev. Joel Weinsheimer and Donald G. Marshall. London: Continuum.Google Scholar
  11. Habermas, Jürgen. 1996. Between Facts and Norms: Contributions to a Discourse Theory of Law and Democracy. Trans. William Rehg. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  12. Honneth, Axel. 1991. Habermas’ Theory of Society: A Transformation of the Dialectic of Enlightenment in Light of the Theory of Communication. In The Critique of Power, 278–303. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  13. Horkheimer, Max, Adorno, Theodor W. 2002. Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments. Trans. Edmund Jephcott. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Jauss, Hans R. 1970. Literaturgeschichte als Provokation der Literaturwissenschaft. In Literaturgeschichte als Provokation, 144–207. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
  15. Kahneman, Daniel. 2011. Thinking, Fast and Slow. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.Google Scholar
  16. Kumlin, Staffan, and Bo Rothstein. 2005. Making and Breaking Social Capital: The Impact of Welfare-State Institutions. Comparative Political Studies 38 (4): 339–365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Nussbaum, Martha C. 1990. Love’s Knowledge: Essays on Philosophy and Literature. New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  18. ———. 1995. Poetic Justice: The Literary Imagination and Public Life. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  19. Offe, Claus. 1984. Contradictions of the Welfare State. London: Hutchinson.Google Scholar
  20. Pereira, Gustavo. 2013. Elements of a Critical Theory of Justice. Houndmills/Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Rodríguez, Oscar Javier Cárdenas. 2009. Poverty Reduction Approaches in Mexico Since 1950: Public Spending for Social Programs and Economic Competitiveness Programs. Journal of Business Ethics 88 (2): 269–28.1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Rothstein, Bo. 2001. Social Capital in the Social Democratic Welfare State. Politics & Society 29 (2): 207–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Skoufias, Emmanuel, Susan W. Parker, Jere R. Behrman, and Carola Pessino. 2001. Conditional Cash Transfers and Their Impact on Child Work and Schooling: Evidence from the PROGRESA Program in Mexico [with comments]. Economia 2 (1): 45–96.Google Scholar
  24. Wellmer, Albrecht. 1998a. Models of Freedom in the Modern World. In Endgames: The Irreconcilable Nature of Modernity: Essays and Lectures. Trans. David Midgley, 3–38. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  25. ———. 1998b. Conditions of a Democratic Culture. In Endgames: The Irreconcilable Nature of Modernity, 39–62. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  26. Wolfe, Alan. 1989. Whose Keeper? Social Science and Moral Obligation. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  27. Young, Iris Marion. 2000. Inclusion and democracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gustavo Pereira
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of HumanitiesUniversidad de la RepúblicaMontevideoUruguay

Personalised recommendations