The Habermasean (De) Reconstruction of Marx’s Paradigm

By Tonin Gjuraj and Fatos Tarifa.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

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

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp.285-294. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 904.371KB).

Prof. Tonin Gjuraj

Vice Rector, School of Social Sciences, European University of Tirana, Tirana, Tirana, Albania

Professor of Sociology at the European University of Tirana School of Social Sciences and former Albanian Ambassador to the State of Israel, Dr. Tonin Gjuraj is author of several books and journal articles.

Prof. Fatos Tarifa

Professor, Institute of Social and Policy Studies, European University of Tirana, Tirana, Tirana, Albania

PhD in Sociology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; PhD is Political Science from the University of Tirana. Teaching and research experience: The Institute of Social Studies at The Hague (1993-1994); The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1992; 1995-1998); Campbell University (1996-1998); Webster University (Leiden Campus, NL, 1999-2001); Eastern Michigan University (2006-2008); European University of Tirana (1998 - presently). Author of 24 books and more than 50 peer reviewed journal articles. Ambassador of Albania to the Netherlands (1998-2001) and to the United States (2001-2005). Editor of the journal “Sociological Analysis”. Academic nterests: development, democratic transition and consolidation.


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