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The Theory of Communicative Action, Vol 1: Reason & the Rationalization of Society

(The Theory of Communicative Action)

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  753 ratings  ·  19 reviews
A major contribution to contemporary social theory. Not only does it provide a compelling critique of some of the main perspectives in 20th century philosophy and social science, but it also presents a systematic synthesis of the many themse which have preoccupied Habermas for thirty years. --Times Literary Supplement
Paperback, 512 pages
Published March 1st 1985 by Beacon Press (first published 1981)
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Dave Ferris
Apr 15, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theory
I'll be "currently reading" this for the rest of my life...
Justin Evans
Aug 06, 2009 rated it it was ok
This is a difficult book to rate, since it's obviously very important/influential. And the horrific style could bias anyone against it. But I finally settled on two stars. Why?

* Habermas' theory is meant to be an advance beyond previous critical theories. He argues that their focus on consciousness philosophy (broadly speaking, an individualist approach to social theory, which assumes that individuals are the primary bearers of meaning) leads them into all sorts of problems. But his interpretati
Nov 07, 2011 rated it it was ok
I was actually surprised by how thoughtless Habermas’ critique of Marx was, relying as it does on the Weber reading, and the whole base/superstructure trope. For those of you who heard about this famous duality and want to critique Marx based on it: Marx said this ONCE, and with contextual specificity. He didn’t really believe you could just dump the social on top of some stool called “economy” (this is an economist reading).
Habermas also seems to think Marxism can’t account for the welfare stat
kiran Banerjee
Apr 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
An interesting read, incredibly illuminating for those trying to understand the theoretical underpinnings of Habermas' overall project. However, much like other modern magnum opuses (i.e. Rawls’ Theory of Justice) the work could have been considerably more succinct. The expansive re-hashs and expositions on modern sociology that makes up the majority of the work, while interesting, was far less interesting then the far too brief analysis of the critique of rationalization as part of an emancipat ...more
Sep 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
These ideas need to be considered more - if we want real democracy to flourish we need to implement some of them. We do not talk about important things anymore... We ought to.
Dec 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Including vol. 2 as well, Habermas re-conceives the rational society as based not on some abstract ideal, but in the rationality of everyday discourse.
Jan 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The problem that most adults face in Modern society is that they have almost no ideas with which to formulate an understanding of how they can transform again. Most assume that they will learn more things that are learnable just as other things were in the past. Habermas (1984, p. 68), however, described the difference well:
"With the transition to a new stage the interpretations of the superseded stage are, no matter what their content, categorically devalued. It is not this or that reason, but
Sep 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: rhetoric
Habermas intimidated me quite a deal, I admit, but the thing about analytical philosophers is that while their texts are lengthy and detailed in their proofs, they make for good skimming. In fact, Jeff Walker giving me permission not to worry about focusing on every page was a big part of the best day of my life. The ideas here are remarkably interesting and tie in dreadfully with Burke, I think.
Sep 19, 2007 rated it liked it
Mr. Habermas, couldn't you write it in a simpler way? Your book is hard to read :))
Mar 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
How we communicate determines the structure of our lives.
Mar 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
seminal stuff
Mar 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
challenging but brilliant.
Carol Ascot
Feb 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book forced me to go back and read German and Western philosophy, when I came back to read it again I realized what a breakthrough in Western thought it was!
Mar 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'm a big fan of the ideas in this book and the clarity with which they are expressed. It might not be the most engaging way of writing, but it really worked for me and I got a lot out of it. I rather liked his diagrams and tables too.
Sarah De Ruyter
May 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Such awful writing style but I still want him to come to my graduation party
Dec 11, 2015 marked it as to-keep-reference
Si la comunicación es uno de los sectores hegemónicos de la producción y actúa sobre todo el campo biopolítico, entonces debemos considerar a la comunicación coexistente con el contexto biopolítico. Esto nos lleva mucho más allá del viejo terreno, como fue descrito por Jürgen Habermas, por ejemplo. De hecho, cuando Habermas desarrolló el concepto de acción comunicativa, demostrando tan fuertemente su forma productiva y las consecuencias ontológicas derivadas de ello, él se basó todavía en un pun ...more
Stefan Szczelkun
Sep 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I read this book closely as the main theoretical work for my PhD. My summary and critique is here:
The other thing to say here is that volume 2 is more radical and interesting than Vol 1 and few people seem to get through to it! Habermas has a pedantic point by point style that can exhaust the reader that needs a bit more pezazz.
Apr 06, 2011 rated it liked it
Equalitative Deliberalism?
Nicolás Luna
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Sep 04, 2012
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Jun 24, 2009
Roan Wisse
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May 18, 2020
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Jürgen Habermas is a German sociologist and philosopher in the tradition of critical theory and American pragmatism. He is perhaps best known for his work on the concept of the public sphere, the topic of his first book entitled The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. His work focuses on the foundations of social theory and epistemology, the analysis of advanced capitalistic societies ...more

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The Theory of Communicative Action (2 books)
  • The Theory of Communicative Action, Vol 2: Lifeworld & System: A Critique of Functionalist Reason

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