After Habermas: New Perspectives on the Public Sphere by Nick Crossley, John Michael Roberts

By Nick Crossley, John Michael Roberts

Critiquing Habermas, this quantity carry clean views and concepts to undergo on debates concerning the public sphere.Engages in numerous methods with J?rgen Habermas’s seminal research, The Structural Transformation of the general public Sphere. strikes past Habermas via reflecting on present social procedures and occasions, reminiscent of anti-corporate protests and the emergence of the net. Considers substitute theories by means of Bakhtin, Bourdieu and Honneth, between others. Combines paintings through verified commentators and new researchers.

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This is somewhat overstated: perhaps it would be more accurate to say that there is a Habermasian subject, but it is a rather insubstantial entity, one marked by an interchangeable, ‘minimalist’ body (mainly having to do with the human capacity for labour), subtended by a rational mind that engages in purposive dialogue and moral reflection. Such a Habermasian body does not seem to be marked by difference, of a gendered nature or otherwise, and nor does it evince the kind of dense, material ‘fleshiness’ that thinkers like Merleau-Ponty have striven to comprehend, via what Hwa Jol Jung (1990) has usefully termed a ‘carnal hermeneutics’.

Habermas’ arguments have also been scrutinized critically by feminist theoreticians like Seyla Benhabib (1992, 1995) and Nancy Fraser (1992) who, whilst working broadly within the tradition of critical theory, nonetheless chastise Habermas for such disabling blind-spots as a lack of sensitivity about gender issues, his devaluing of an ‘ethics of care’, or failure to comprehend the limitations of formal rationality and representative democracy. More recently, another wrinkle has been added to the debate: many argue for a virtual abandonment of Habermasian-inspired notions of the public sphere in favour of a theory of ‘counterpublics’.

However, Bakhtin feels that Kantianism is too abstract and prescriptive, and its use of transcendental a prioris renders it unable to address ethical problems as they emerge within everyday life. Kant’s moral philosophy is an example of what Bakhtin calls ‘theoretism’: in maintaining a disjuncture between immediate experience and ‘extra-local’ symbolic representations, and by privileging the latter, such approaches subsume the open-ended and ‘messy’ qualities of real-life communicative and social acts into an all-encompassing explanatory system.

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