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Habermas’s Critical Theory

During the early 1960s-70s, critical theory developed by the school of Western Marxism caught the attention of intellectual thinkers and students everywhere (Held, 1980). This led to the theory being most popular in Germany as copies of the book were sold for free among people who were curious about the theory. The influence of Critical theory has spread far and wide, so much so that literary authors have also utilized the theory’s implications in their works (Held, 1980). According to Held (1980), “Critical theory became a key element in the formation and self-understanding of the New Left.” (p.13). Different issues based on actions related to political revolution and theory have been discarded, and in their place, other discourses and texts have become the centre of every intellectual’s attention (Alway, 1995). Over the years, it has been seen that critical theorists have been the centre of controversial debates despite their influential works. However, a significant aspect to note is that Creative theory does not hold a unitary meaning for all fields of science (Held, 1980).

It has come to the attention of critical theorists that social theory is in crisis. The concepts that had emerged in the 1960s questioned the practicality and implication of the communicative approach (Kellner, 1990).  The critical approach can be looked at from two perspectives; one that was developed by the Social Research Institute in Frankfurt, and the second aspect is a recent one developed by Jürgen Habermas. The Institute is most often referred to as the Frankfurt School. While looking at Habermas’s recent works on Philosophy and Sociology, it is evident that his works have modified the notions of critical theory. Another thing that strikes me as significant is that the Frankfurt School and Habermas and his associates have significant differences in their opinions regarding critical theory. However, before delving into the concept of critical theory that was developed by Habermas, the history of critical theory and its origin will be discussed so that the readers can get a better understanding of its meaning and implications.

Historical Background:

Before discussing the meaning and implication of Critical theory, a brief overview of its history will be touched upon. In the year 1932, a man by the name of Felix Weil used his father’s money to create an institute that would be devoted to the study of German society by using Marxist ideologies. The primary purpose behind creating such an institute was that it would be solely focused on the studies of labour movements and anti-Semitism that were being ignored by German scholars at that time. Soon after its creation, the institute gained recognition by Goethe University Frankfurt. The first director of the institute was Carl Grunberg, who was a Marxist Professor at the University of Vienna (Kobylarek et al., 2013). In the year 1930, Grunberg was succeeded by Max Horkheimer, who worked effortlessly towards forming an interdisciplinary integration of social sciences. Horkheimer was able to address different social, economic, and political issues while also presenting diverse interpretations of Marxist ideology and its historical application. He also criticized the subjective approach and the absence of consideration for the materialist way of living. Horkheimer also attempted to end the binaries between consciousness and being, theory and practice, and between fact and values.

Around the sixties, while student protests had surfaced all across Europe, Adorno published a fundamental work titled Negative Dialectics. Adorno had kept himself away from writing on materialism and metaphysics and instead talked on the notions of dialectics. Jurgen Habermas is considered to be an influential spokesperson for the young generation of critical theorists (McCarthy, 1978). Born in 1929, Habermas grew up in Germany and did not become radicalized till the late 1950s. He joined the institute in 1956 and worked as Adorno’s assistant. Being influenced by Adorno, Habermas realized the systematic use that could be made of the Marxist approach and Freudian perspective. Horkheimer showed hostility towards Habermas and refused to publish most of his texts in the Frankfurt publications. Having taught at Heidelberg, Habermas took up the position in 1964 in Philosophy and Sociology at Frankfurt University. His efforts have been directed from the 1950’s onwards to the reshaping of critical theory.

Habermas was nominated the director of the Max Planck Institute for Research at Starnberg in 1971 and left Frankfurt. He returned in 1981 after completing his work, The Theory of Communicative Action. Through this theory, Habermas highlighted the social complexities and the action coordination, both of which had been taken from the interpretations of classical social theorists. Habermas’s empirical work on different topics, such as the pathologies of societies and moral development, paved the way for a functionalistic approach towards a society with an emancipatory purpose. His concepts and the debates on those ideas are slowly but gradually being understood by the Anglo-American world. Habermas’s writings are planted in German thought, which remains neglected and has not been translated into the world of English language speakers.

Habermas has proved through his concepts based on communicative action that language is capable of making changes in the way society functions. Language as a medium has allowed people to interact with one another and discuss important issues, bringing about a change in the ideologies that had been imposed on the members. Habermas also claimed in his discourse theory that there were three kinds of validity claims that had been raised through communicative action. These claims were righteousness, sincerity, and truth, all three of which led towards social coordination. It can be seen from the works of Habermas that he has contributed a great deal when bridging the gap between different aspects, such as Anthropology and Semiotics, with the Marxist approach and Critical Theory.

Critical Theory:

In spite of the essential theorist’s remark about Marxist theory, critical theory was formulated to bring about a political revolution in society and change the economic situation (Alway, 1995). According to the definition presented by Horkheimer in his essay Traditional Critical Theory, critical theory focuses on the differences in the approaches between social theories and scientific theories. Horkheimer and his associates disregarded the concept of objectivity when it came to knowledge. He claimed that objectivity in knowledge was planted in historical and social processes. If one examines the theory at hand, Hegel’s notions of dialectics and Marxist theory of economy can be seen to have influenced the critical approach. Habermas’s primary purpose over the years has been to remodel historical materialism to highlight the issues of the present-day world and also the shift in the Western political society and economy (Murphy & Fleming, 2010). Critical theory aims to explain the socio-political determinants that describe the boundaries of analysis of particular philosophical views along with moving beyond the application of imagination. By staying focused on these things, critical theory results with two concepts of rationality. The first concept is related to the dominant form of power and the second one is more towards a liberating force. Habermas focuses on these two types of rationality in his critical theory and states that the first form is used as a means-ends way of understanding human and environmental relations, while the second form is focused on utilizing human action in criteria of action validity. The latter concept of rationality aligns with Kant’s principle of morality, in which Kant asserts the significance of human beings. Kant proposes the idea that humans are an end in themselves and, therefore, should not be thought of as tools or means to attain something.

Habermas thinks of his project as a way to create a theory of society that carries a practical intention. This practical aim is a self-emancipation of the individuals from the society’s domination. By evaluating the self-formative processes of humans, Habermas’s purpose is to enhance the understanding of the social groups that can change society. Habermas’s aim in redefining critical theory is to help in the utilization of history through one’s own will and consciousness. To prove his point and defend his concept of critical theory, Habermas has worked on coming up with a philosophical understanding of the method. To do so, Habermas has recreated some of the thoughts of classical Greek and German philosophy such as the inseparability of virtue and authenticity, of facts and values and theory and practice. For Habermas, the idea behind the critical approach originates from the subject of history. He states that twentieth-century history is distinguished by some of the significant developments in both capitalist and socialist societies.

In his concept of critical theory, Habermas highlights the degeneration of the Russian revolution that has turned into Stalinism. He further talks about the failure of revolution in the West and the lack of a mass proletarian revolutionary class consciousness. Alongside these issues, the constant collapse of the Marxist approach into deterministic or cultural critique are significant features of the recent times. Habermas asserts that the occurrence of all these events shows that the Marxist method cannot be relied upon along with the other theories that have been implemented in the society. Such instances, according to Habermas, call for the redesigning of the critical theory by assessing and evaluating the essential traditions of social thought. Habermas has not limited his approach to a philosophical perspective only but has also looked at the compelling argument from a psychological perspective. By adding the mental aspect, Habermas sought to integrate some contributions to different fields of psychology, such as individual psychology and social psychology.

In the philosophical approach towards critical theory, Habermas rejects the ideas of his contemporaries such as Adorno and Horkheimer. According to Habermas, Adorno was of the view that there were ultimate foundations for knowledge, and value was unfathomable. However, Habermas refutes this statement of Adorno. He also does not agree with Adorno and Horkheimer regarding their antipathy towards systematic thought. Habermas’s whole concept that is structured on engaging and employing competing traditions of philosophy and social thought, redesigning of the foundations of the social theory and asserting the superiority of his claim over others shows that his work is in direct opposition with the primary goals of the theorists that belong to the Frankfurt school. However, like Adorno, Habermas believes that reification has been a significant outcome of the historical development (Cook, 2004).

One of the main concerns of Habermas since the publication of Structural change in public is based on the escalation of the instrumental reason to different areas of social life. Habermas has discussed the two levels concerned with the advancement of technocratic consciousness, which has hurt the public sphere. The public sphere can be taken as a realm of social life that allows people to discuss their opinions (Habermas, Lennox, & Lennox, 1974). The first level which is that of the social theory, Habermas claims that rising tendency to explain practical problems as technical issues causes a problem for the essential aspects of human life. He asserts that technocratic consciousness does not only allow the classes to show domination but also impacts the very foundations of human interests (Held, 1980). In the second level which is that of the theory of knowledge, Habermas analyzes the way instrumental reason has taken over the modern thought. According to Habermas, if liberation from domination is to be considered a part of humanity, then it is vital to counter this tendency and ascertain the necessity of self-reflection for the sake of self-understanding. To do this, Habermas carried out a systematic investigation to assess human interests and knowledge.

Another aspect that Habermas continually highlights is that knowledge has been deeply seeded in history and is interest bound. In his article Knowledge and Human Interests and Theory, and Practice, Habermas has formulated a theory that is based on the cognitive interests which are an essential first step to understanding the relationship between knowledge and human activity. Furthering his concept of cognitive interests, Habermas formulated the theory of communicative action, which will be discussed in detail later. While discussing the theory of cognitive interests, Habermas highlights that the purpose of this approach is to bring forth the conditions for the possibility of knowledge (Geuss, 1981). In addition to this, Habermas also asserts that history, social realism, and nature are all creations of the ongoing labour of the human race (Habermas, Lennox, & Lennox, 1974). He regards knowledge regarding the issues that an individual is faced with in his efforts to formulate his existence and to further create his species being. Furthermore, Habermas states that humans are in the habit of organizing their experiences in light of cognitive interests. Continuing with this statement, Habermas highlights that human beings manipulate and take possession of objects and that they also interact with others of their kind through the use of symbols and gestures that have been created by a rule-governing institute. Regarding Habermas’s comment, it is evident that human beings are interested in the development of knowledge that would allow them to have power over objectified processes and also to continue having communications.

In light of the cognitive interests as discussed previously, Habermas presents a third interest that human beings have regarding reflective appropriation of their lives (Held, 1980). In case of its absence, the knowledge that is interest-related will not be understood completely. Humans have an interest in reason; they tend to be self-reflective and to act rationally. Due to this, knowledge is generated, which increases autonomy and responsibility. It can also be termed an emancipatory interest. Lastly, Habermas’s in concept of critical theory talks about the model of human affairs, media, and the sciences. He adds that the interests of every individual are technical, practical and emancipatory (Habermas, Lennox, & Lennox, 1974). These interests are seen to surface in different mediums, such as work, interaction, and power, which then give rise to the possibility of three sciences. The three sciences that Habermas refers to in his article are the empirical-analytic, the historical-hermeneutic and the critical science. A central claim to these three sciences is that they systemize and create the methods that are required for the achievement of human activity.

From the previous points, it can be seen that Habermas’s purpose behind formulating the theory of cognitive interests in Knowledge and Human interests shows his initial attempt to highlight the relationship between knowledge and human activity (Geuss, 1981). Furthermore, Habermas asserts in his concept of critical theory that the very syntax of speech is maintained to involve the anticipation of a form of life in which different concepts like freedom, truth, and justice can be attained. The critical theory makes use of this argument as its starting point. According to Habermas, critical theory is seeded in a normative standard that is not erratic but is found in the structure of language and social action. Communication plays a crucial role in driving people towards social action. Habermas believes that language is the medium that brings people together and forces them to participate in public spheres to share their concerns on essential subject matters (Held, 1980).

Critical theory and Habermas’s views are similar as both view rationality as not just a type of moralizing criticism but also as a kind of knowledge (Geuss, 1981). Habermas argues that there should be an ideal speech situation in which everyone is allowed to participate and present their views on different matters. By doing so, the communicative action calls forth a normative check on different contexts. According to Habermas, rational criticism should be objected to as it presupposes conditions that cannot be avoided. He favors criticism only if intellectuals accept the universal standards of validity along with an understanding for the opinions presented by others and a sense of agreement (Habermas, Lennox, & Lennox, 1974). Habermas embraced the fundamental position of his predecessors, but he did not limit himself to the continued reflection and critique of ideology into which critical theory had diminished. Being clear about the role of Philosophy, Habermas perceived it to smoothly fit into the part of interpreter and critique. Furthermore, Habermas divided social action into groups of labour and interaction, thereby allotting cognitive and practical interests to both groups. In his approach towards redefining critical theory, Habermas calls for the rationality of people over everything else.

The Critical Theory primarily focuses on participatory democracy and participation in the public sphere rather than following the technical experts to run the country. Habermas focuses on communication and reflective leadership, where people can come and discuss their problems and find solutions. While confronting the traditional concept of critical, Habermas asserts his thoughts on the matter and says that the public sphere can serve as an instrument to make things better. He believes in the questioning of the societal norms, to incorporate the theories in the social life to improve their lives; both cultural and political and to question the rules the way the people of the Renaissance did. Habermas also stresses using features from critical theories and applying them in social life. He strives for participation and public sphere instead of the top-down regulatory approach in politics. Similarly, he focuses on communication in education and linguistics. Habermas does not believe that the expert has the right knowledge regarding the experiences of every individual. Therefore, the ideologies made by an expert cannot be applied to an entire society. He prefers a bottom-up approach by incorporating political and critical theories. Habermas encourages innovation and advancement of the community, regardless of what mechanism draws it.

Theory of Communicative Action

Habermas acquired a linguistic turn in this theory that came after his remodeled concept of Critical Theory. Habermas drew upon the works of Anglo-American philosophers that included Ludwig, Wittgenstein, and J. L. Auston among few others. Habermas claimed that human interaction was a crucial form of communicative approach rather than the strategic one (Robeck, Willis, Scarpuzzi, & O’Brien, 2015). He stated that the theory aimed at the agreement rather than focusing on gaining self-interested goals of the individuals. During the 1970s to 80’s, Habermas modified his earlier concept of critical social theory and termed it as the Theory of Communicative Action. In this theory, Habermas discussed two thoughts, one that was based on communicative competence and communicative rationality and the second thought was based on distorted communication. Habermas has played a crucial role in the field of social psychology of communication.

Many of the essential concepts, theories, and critiques in the late 20th century have been derived from Habermas’s works on social psychology. Habermas’s concept of social psychology has been the center of criticism as the critics continue to debate over communicative tension that is central to his theory. However, other fields of study have benefited significantly from the concepts presented by Habermas. Habermas faced a lot of critique due to his work which was based on the importance of language and communicative action (Bolton, 2005). The critics were of the view that the concept of communicative action could not be trusted as an approach that could call for rational discussions among people to resolve significant issues and international conflicts. Despite the critique, Habermas continued to expand on his concept of communicative action to assess human interests. The purpose of creating this theory rests heavily on how people look at their societal norms, which can sometimes be extreme and cannot be applied entirely to every individual. Habermas was also criticized by different intellectual groups, such as the feminists, Marxists and race theorists, for not giving importance to socialism and entirely discarding it for communicative action. The intellectuals were of the view that Habermas had disregarded social issues that involved injustice and oppression for something like rational discussion in public spheres (Robeck et al., 2015).

According to McCarthy, the primary purpose of the theory is to highlight the importance of language, especially regarding communication as it allows people from different communities to come together in the domains of public and to discuss important matters. By allowing people to gather for public arguments, a change can be brought about in the way things are perceived in the society (McCarthy, 1984). The individuals of the community will not be restricted by the democratic ideologies but will have liberation in thought and actions. The theory of Communicative action is primarily based on the difference between two concepts of rationality which model knowledge to pave the way for action (Bolton, 2005). The first idea of rationality is the cognitive-instrumental rationality which performs actions that help in the successful acceptance of privately set goals. This kind of action can be either instrumental or strategic. The second concept of rationality is based on communicative rationality which strives for attaining mutual understanding which can be acquired through the process of agreement between communicative subjects. Habermas’s theory of communicative action is not to be mistaken for a process that allows different people to develop a mutual understanding only through the acts of speech or that agreement will be the definite result when people interact with one another.

Habermas asserts that for communicative actions to take place, it is not necessary that only a linguistic approach is required for embarking on such a task; somewhat different mediums such as signs and symbols can also be used to develop an understanding. He also claims that for communicative action to take place, individuals need to resist any irrationality so that they can listen to one another’s opinions and then come to some kind of agreement. Furthermore, Habermas claims that a language is a crucial tool that allows people to interact with one another and participate in rational argumentation so that they can reach a mutual understanding (Robeck et al., 2015). Habermas expands on the concept of communicative approach and says that a society can never achieve an idealized communicative community but a society can keep itself away from any democratic activities that hinder agreement. In the theory of communicative action, Habermas examines the terms of rational argumentation in communicative action to differentiate between validity claims that are overtly or covertly seeded in the acts of speech (Bolton, 2005). Habermas distinguishes between the following claims, comprehensible and well-organized speech acts can cause an objective claim towards being authentic, a standardizing claim to righteousness, and an expressive claim towards honesty.

In addition to this, Habermas states that there are different discourses whose purpose is to address the above-mentioned claims. These discourses are various and include, a theoretical discussion that focuses on truth, a moral-practical discourse that assesses standardizing righteousness and aesthetic critique on the sincerity. By stating the core concepts of this theory, Habermas formulates a two-stage approach of lifeworld and system. Habermas highlights that the claims presented in communicative action are most often left unquestioned or are not criticized because they have taken place in the spheres of a shared lifeworld that remains undisputed. Furthermore, Habermas asserts that the lifeworld gives the public a commonly agreed upon background knowledge in which the communicative action can take place.

In light of the assertion, Habermas claims that a characteristic of the occidental society’s rationalization is that the lifeworld has distinct lines of validity claims of speech acts. Therefore, a line has been drawn between three performative attitudes of communicative action. These are, an objectifying attitude towards the outer world that is based on events and circumstances, a standardizing approach towards the social world that involves a community and lastly an expressive attitude towards the inner world that is based on the subjectivity of members of society. It is evident so far that Habermas’s concept of the lifeworld does not limit itself to the traditions of the culture of a specific group or community. Not only does the lifeworld provide a set of cultural values, but it also keeps the social actors in check so that they abide by the standards set by the society. It also enables the social actors to act as capable personalities in their environment.

Habermas has discussed three structural factors of the lifeworld which align with the following functions that are culture, society, and personality. He states that if one looks at the level of culture, the cultural reproduction coincides with the interpretation activities that are shared by the members of the life world. Moving on to the next level which is that of social interaction, Habermas argues that social interaction can be taken regarding a legitimate ordering of the mutual relations that have been created through the arrangement of actions carried out by the shared norms (Robeck et al., 2015). The last level presented by Habermas is that of personality, in which he says that the process of socialization tries to ascertain that personalities with communicative abilities are formed. This further proves Habermas’s point that culture, society, and personality are structural fragments of the rationalized life world. By discussing in detail the structural components of a rationalized life world, Habermas proves that by justifying society, a difference can be created in a once unified life world.

According to Habermas, lifeworld has a double meaning, such that on the one hand, there are contexts of culture, society, and personality within communicative actions (Bolton, 2005). On the other hand, by participating in communicative acts, people can transfer their knowledge to others and, by doing so recreate the cultural experience while also developing a social identity. Moving on to Habermas’s concept of social evolution, it is seen that the process takes a vital turn when the sociologist argues about the action-oriented approach of the lifeworld which cannot account for all the issues of the modern world. In Habermas’s views, the process of rationalization should be looked at not only as a distinction of the lifeworld but as a communicative order that has been developed through symbols. Instead, it should be understood in regards of the material foundations of society as well. The double meaning then shows that societies have to maintain the transmission of traditional values, norms, and processes of socialization. Also, they should be in control of their surroundings to achieve interventions (Robeck et al., 2015). Habermas further argues that the actions that are organized on the demands of media of money and power are not similar to the communicative action such that their purpose is to gain successful organization of the creation and transfer of goods by profit. In Habermas’s view, the system and lifeworld are not problematic in itself. He argues that the sphere of lifeworld should be gained by communicative action that is directed towards mutual understanding.

According to Habermas’ theory of Communicative Action, communication is an essential aspect regarding solving societal issues (Bolton, 2005). Habermas, while making society the centre of attention stresses upon the fact that without contact, the societal norms will prove to be fatal as every person goes through a different experience. He argues that the Marxist ideology needs to be modified to fit the needs of the society. Habermas asserts while discussing Marxism that the Marxist school of thought excluded the human element while analyzing the organization. Their evaluation of human evolution regarding economic progress has been too narrow and confined. Habermas claims that because individuals were not taken into consideration, therefore, the Marxist theory eliminated the concepts of revolution and class struggle. By doing so, the members of a society are faced with a dire crisis.

Habermas claims that society has taken away the freedom of its people, the freedom to voice their opinions and argue over essential matters. The crisis that permeates modern society consists of different issues, such as individual needs not being met and individuals being manipulated by their community. In situations such as these, members of an organization interact with one another, which Habermas refers to as Communicative Action. The coming together of people and agreeing on each other’s opinions becomes an act of revolution which then leads to a change (Robeck et al., 2015). In his theory of communicative action, the author has provided a theoretical format which is based on different things such as; the planning of public participation, agreeing on opinions by interacting with one another instead of using power on people, taking away the benefits of experts and elites, and replacing the approach used by technical experts with that of a reflective planner.

Descriptively it can be stated that the legitimacy of democracy is not wholly reliant on the enactment of laws through the processes that form the constitution. Similarly, communicative action is said to be an individual action that is aimed to forward the general sense of understanding things in a group and in order to establish a concept of cooperation which is in opposition to strategic action, merely prompting the thought that a person’s self-interest should be given preference to achieve their goals (Bolton, 2005). Habermas presented a contrast in light of democracy related to the Greeks and the notion of representation to promote the radical democratic movement. He also contrasted the bourgeois parliamentary democracy from the 19th century. This was due to his belief that such practices were presently reducing the number of participants from the community. Habermas provided a supportive defence to the claim of radical democracy is focused towards making the people sovereign regarding political and economic realms, while in opposition of parliamentary democracy. He based his entire concentration on elaborating that democratization bridges the empirical focus on political association as the core for a properly democratic society and similarly acts as an essential element for a person’s self-development process.

In his study on “The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere,” Habermas presented different aspects of participatory and active bourgeois public sphere through the view of bureaucratic industrialized society which was being controlled by the elites and the media. The book covers two critical themes that include an in-depth analysis of the historical genesis based on the bourgeois public sphere. This is inclusive of the era when the rising elements of cultural industries, capitalism, and the gradually increasing and influential positions were owned by industrial businesses and corporations. This, in turn, caused the big economic companies and corporations to take full dominance over the public sphere while the public opted to become the consumers of political administration, goods, and spectacle.

Haberman’s interpretation of bourgeois public sphere began surfacing in 1700 related to the concept of correlating the particular issues that dealt with an individual’s social, familial and economic life were in contrast to the demands depicted for the public and social life. In the solution to this problem, answers were present in terms that could negate private matters and opinions. This was the critical bridging element between citizen and bourgeois that stressed the use of critical concepts presented by early Marx and Hegel that explained the terms aiding with bypassing the opinions and matter to attain a common interest that was favoured through a social consensus. The elements forming the public sphere mostly consisted of political debate, information, journals, and newspapers (Bolton, 2005). The elements apart from these included literary salons, political clubs, pubs, public assemblies and coffee houses that catered to the needs of creating an environment for socio-political conversations. This quickly became an inspirational movement as it allowed an individual to raise their voice and convey their thoughts on their needs and held a positive influencing factor over shaping the political practice itself (Bolton, 2005). It was all made possible through the use of the bourgeois public sphere which held a dominating hand in opposing the state power and the overwhelming burden of interest that was being imposed in a functioning bourgeois society.

The study of Haberman’s public sphere discussed a space present for institutions and the use of practices about the private interests for the everyday life of civil society (Robeck et al., 2015). These are in accordance with the realm that exercises state power. This assists the public sphere in applying its authority to meditate in parallel domains of private life and work, a place where individual matters are prevalent and that of the state is often found to be imposing their different forms of domination and power play. It is imperative to understand that the concept of the Bourgeois public sphere, through Haberman’s perception, is a place that offers a gathering spot for individuals and intellects to engage in discussions regarding their concerns about public affairs and to formulate a defensive front against the domination and power exertion from the state. In a nutshell, the bourgeois public sphere offered a mutual understanding towards concepts such as; owning the freedom to voice opinions, a free form of the press to operate without any powered individuals restricting them to express openly, and the idea of having the freedom to freely partake in political conversations and being included in decision-making processes.

Haberman’s suggestion, after the democratic revolution, the public sphere attained the level of being institutionalized from the perspective of constitutional order allowing it a broad range of political benefits and rights, as well as aiding in the establishment of a judicial system that catered for the claims made among groups and individuals, or among state, individual and groups. Around the late 19th century, a concept of re-feudalization began occurring in the public sphere, amending the ways described by it and thus allowing more prominent commercial businesses and corporations to once again reign supreme over the public while controlling the state and media. This slowly started the decline as the country began playing a more fundamental and dominant role in domains of public and private life. This brought the gradual end towards the difference that stood to define the boundaries of civil and state society, as well as the main identifiable difference between the private and public spheres (Robeck et al., 2015). The decline in the public area resulted in individuals taking up roles of becoming passive consumers and indulging in their private affairs instead of being interested in democratic participation and the common good (Bolton, 2005). It soon gave way to an inevitable transition of the public sphere to mutate from a space that defined a platform for rational debates and discussions to a domain consisting of a broader form of consumption and being administrated by dominant elite parties and corporations. This transformation soon resulted in a change for public opinion on matters of critical importance regarding state policy towards becoming an object for mechanical manipulation. Political issues are considered to be professional matters which are worked on after gaining expert advice for them.

From the above discussion it is evident that for Habermas, communicative action holds a crucial place as it allows people to come together in the public spheres and participate in rational argumentation so that they can bring forth their views regarding the norms of the society. By doing so, the members of the community will be able to come to a mutual understanding and thereby achieve some solidarity and social identity. Habermas claims in his theory of Communicative action that people have been following the set norms of society that hinder any argumentation as the rules have been defined and people are taught to act accordingly. Such a situation makes the community an undisputed and a peaceful place, but that is what the bureaucrats and the elites think it is. People, on the other hand, have been faced with a social crisis as they cannot follow the ideologies that have been forced upon them. Each member of society has a different experience, which cannot be defined through some thinking that was made many decades ago; therefore, to help the members of a community, people should be allowed to participate in public gatherings. Not only has Habermas brought about a change in the concept of critical thinking, but he has also helped the intellectuals in understanding the implication of communicative action, which is different from all the previous concepts. Habermas’s works are unique in the sense that he focuses on the members of a society in order to evaluate the societal condition.


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