Habermas's Notion of the Colonization of the Life-world Essays

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Habermas presented his theories of colonization of the life-world based on classic theorists, including such sociologists as Weber, Durkheim, Parsons, and Mead and Marx. At the heart of his theories was communication. Habermas believed the main problem with society was not how to control it but how to maintain communicative action, believing that societies have become increasingly impaired or “colonized”. Habermas called this the “colonization of life-world by systems”. The first part of Habermas’s theory is concerned with how the crisis of communicative action has become colonized and its illegitimacy (Frank, 2000). The second part of his theory describes the way to restore legitimacy, holding that a fully functioning democracy, honoring …show more content…

Colonization then means, in social settings that formerly operated by qualitative media (I & L), the quantitative media (A & G) now control the other, resulting in a communication crisis. Rather than conversation leading to a common understanding, domination is achieved by the other through the use of money or votes. Further, colonization reduces the sphere in which they both operate. However, the legitimacy of the quantitative media owes its existence to and ultimately depends on the qualitative media. A & G influences are only worth as much as people understand them to be. A refers to the “official economy” and and G refers to the “administrative state”. The I & L represent the life-world and the means of shared understandings and values that develop through interaction (Frank, 2000). According to Habermas, when people believe that the economy no longer serves them or that the government isn’t working in their best interest, crisis ensues. He believes we have such a crisis today because quantitative media are non-communicative. With money and votes, he who has the most wins. Money and votes can be useful ways of getting things done, but only so long as their legitimacy is assured by the common understandings of influence and value-commitments. Therefore, it must be understood that money and power are expressions of shared value-commitments and interpersonal influence. The I & L will generate the legitimacy of the A & G (Frank, 2000).

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