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J��rgen Habermas on Social Movements - Dictionary of Arguments

Gaus I 271
Social movements/Habermas/West(...) the expansion of state and capitalist systems increasingly organizes human life according to the instrumental logic of money and power, overwhelming any possibility of communicatively achieved consensus and reducing the lifeworld to a lifeless shell. New social movements [NSMs] are understood in these terms as an embryonic counterattack from the life-
world against the colonizing force of instrumentally rationalized systems (Habermas, 1981(1); 1987(2): 391—6).
Lifeworld: The new conflicts are displaced from economic and state systems to the lifeworld or, more precisely, the 'seam' between system and lifeworld: 'the new conflicts arise in areas of cultural reproduction, social integration and socialization the new conflicts are not sparked by problems of distribution, but concern the grammar of forms of life'. NSMs respond to the disruption and 'colonization' of the lifeworld in either 'defensive' or 'offensive' ways according to whether it is a question of 'how to defend or reinstate endangered life styles, or how
to put reformed life styles into practice' (1981(1): 32).
Feminism: However, the women's movement is‘the only movement that follows the tradition of bourgeois-socialist liberation movements. The struggle against patriarchal oppression and for the realization of a promise that is deeply rooted in the acknowledged universalist foundations of morality and legality lends feminism the impetus of an offensive movement, whereas all other movements are more defensive in character. (1981(1): 34)
Enviroment/peace: Environmental and peace movements - usual paradigms of new social movements - represent a more 'defensive' reaction, albeit one 'which already operates on the basis of a rationalized lifeworld and tries out new forms of co-operation and community' (1981(1): 35). Cf. >Postindustrial Society/Touraine.


1. Habermas, Jürgen (1981) 'New social movements'. Telos, 49: 33_7.
2. Habermas, Jürgen (1987) The Theory of Communicative Action. Vol. Il, Lifeworld and System: A Critique of Functionalist Reason, trans. T. McCarthy. Cambridge: Polity.


West, David 2004. „New Social Movements“. In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Ha I
J. Habermas
Der philosophische Diskurs der Moderne Frankfurt 1988

Ha III
Jürgen Habermas
Theorie des kommunikativen Handelns Bd. I Frankfurt/M. 1981

Ha IV
Jürgen Habermas
Theorie des kommunikativen Handelns Bd. II Frankfurt/M. 1981

Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004


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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2021-07-27
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