Habermas, from society to family : communicative sociation, solidarity and emancipation
Lee, Phillip B.
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Given Sociology’s central concern with social interaction, the complexity, pace and intensity of social modernization creates a tremendous theoretical burden for investigating the modern social dynamic. Furthermore, three core themes are foundational to a sociological perspective concerned with intersubjectivity: social action, social order and social change. In this research, a Habermasian discursive approach to the study of the modern social dynamic holds significant potential for examining and critiquing Sociology’s grounding issues or themes. My research presents the best case for using a Habermasian approach to understanding and theorizing family within contemporary pluralistic societies. By design, I did not utilize or focus upon the extensive secondary literature critical of Habermas’ thought and writing. Accordingly, Habermas’ social philosophy provides the theoretical framework for addressing three sociological problems: understanding the communicative basis of the social dynamic, interconnecting family with larger social formations, and studying Canadian families empirically.In order to address these problems, a communicative sociological perspective is used to analyze each of Sociology’s three focal themes: the discursive interlinking of social interaction through consensus formation (Chapter Two); the moral and legal nature of a communicatively produced solidarity for creating and maintaining social order (Chapter Three); and the communicative foundation of social change and emancipation within both private and public spheres of social life (Chapter Four). Prima facie evidence was found for the relevance of a Habermasian perspective through an empirical analysis of concordant familial relationships within Canada using the General Social Survey. Logistic regression reveals a distinct but complex profile of Canadian married couples who engage in democratic discourse as they construct a common family life-project together.Habermas’ theory of communicative action and discourse theory reconstruct the normative basis for establishing and maintaining peaceful, cooperative and consensual relationships with both proximal and distal others. Through the use of everyday language to reach understanding and agreement within our communicative sociations with others, we have the capacity to establish egalitarian forms of family life and friendly forms of global coexistence. Habermas’ social philosophy provides a communicative lens through which to better understand, assess and address the conditions, problems and potentials of modern social life, whether at the level of family or global society. On the one hand, the discursive nature of communicative sociation reveals the fertile but fragile nature of the internal connection between Sociology’s focal themes, between solidarity and justice, between ethical and moral life, between social and functional integration, between morality and law, and between family and system. On the other hand, our communicative practices have a productive force capable of establishing, reproducing and renegotiating new ways of accomplishing goals and meeting needs, new solidarities and responsibilities, and new motivations and attitudes.According to a Habermasian approach to the sociological perspective, democratic discourse enables the voice of the other to be heard, respected, and considered. A communicative sociological approach therefore points to the relational structures which underlie our action coordinating practices. These relational structures emphasize the importance of a democratic relational dynamic, engendered by solidarity and justice, which can be characterized as an ‘intact’ intersubjectivity. Democratic discourse therefore enables the consensual coordination of social interaction(s) with an other or others ethically and morally, within family and society, even under the pervasive and intensive constraints of a globalized market economy in need of effective moral-political governance.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
CommitteeRegnier, Robert; Hay, David A.; Griffin, Ron
Copyright DateMay 2007