Habermas and Communicative and Instrumental Rationality

  • Karl Spracklen


The work of Jurgen Habermas has been very influential within European critical sociology (Thompson and Held, 1982; Pedersen, 2008), though his polemical attacks against postmodernism have rendered him less acceptable to critical and cultural studies in the United Kingdom and the United States of America (though see Aboulafia, Bookman and Kemp, 2002). Although his writings range from political science (Habermas, 1991:1996; 2001:2006) to epistemology and ethics (Habermas, 1983: 1990; 1991:1993), the fundamental Habermasian concern is to protect the project of modernity and provide a new critical approach to understanding society (Pedersen, 2008). For Habermas, the critical work of Adorno and Gramsci can be reconciled with liberal ideas about freedom by recognizing the tension between two irreconcilable rationalities: communicative rationality, which stems from human interaction and the free exchange of ideas (for example, the aim and model of the Enlightenment); and instrumental rationality, which is a product of capitalism and the emergence of the modern nation-state.


Critical Theory Liberal Democracy Communicative Rationality Instrumental Rationality Frankfurt School 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Copyright information

© Karl Spracklen 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karl Spracklen
    • 1
  1. 1.Leeds Metropolitan UniversityUK

Personalised recommendations