Jürgen Habermas’s early project of “reconstructing” historical materialism, as he claimed, by taking Marx’s theory “apart and putting it back together again in a new form in order to attain more fully the goal it has set for itself” is based primarily on the distinction between labor and interaction. Habermas defines labor (“work”, or “purposive-rational action”) as activity governed by technical rules that are rooted in empirical knowledge designed to transform nature for human purposes. Interaction is defined by him as “communicative action”, or “symbolic action” that is governed by norms designed to achieve consensus on social issues through a process of articulating needs, defining reciprocal behavior expectations, and evaluating different validity claims. Whereas Marx allegedly conflated work and interaction under the category of “social practice”, Habermas separates them as two distinct forms of rationality, practice, and integration. In Habermas’s view, “system integration” occurs in the realm of work whereas “social integration occurs in the realm of communicative action. This paper argues that by introducing the concept of “communicative action” Habermas provides a valuable correction and supplement to Marx’s social theory; yet his theoretical framework, although important for a critical social theory, should be understood as a usefully constructed and complementary theory to Marx’s paradigm rather than as a substitute for it.
|Keywords:||Marx, Habermas, Labor, Interaction, Communicative Action, Historical Materialism|
Vice Rector, School of Social Sciences, European University of Tirana, Tirana, Tirana, Albania
Professor, Institute of Social and Policy Studies, European University of Tirana, Tirana, Tirana, Albania
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