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Rationalization, legitimation, and domination in modern industrial societies : the alternative perspectives of Max Weber and Jürgen Habermas

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Rationalization, legitimation, and domination in modern industrial societies : the alternative perspectives of Max Weber and Jürgen Habermas

Pasdermajian, Penny (2005) Rationalization, legitimation, and domination in modern industrial societies : the alternative perspectives of Max Weber and Jürgen Habermas. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

The suggestions which Max Weber and Jurgen Habermas offer to ameliorate the moral, ethical and practical problems which society faces in modernity are quite different, but they nevertheless complement each other to some extent. This thesis will explore their differing approaches, and attempt to evaluate and critique both Habermas's evolutionary model of social change and Weber's "open-ended" view of modernity. The cornerstone of Habermas's project is the assumption that as individuals learn, so do societies. In his view, learning involves a growing ability to reflect, to analyze, and to enter into the life-worlds of others. By engaging in discursive argumentation, participants subject their most cherished beliefs to close scrutiny, which Habermas hopes will result in new, intersubjectively constituted values which may provide a catalyst for change and liberation. In contrast, Weber's project forcefully rejects evolutionary models of social change. As Weber sees it, reality is infinitely complex, fluid and unpredictable. The constant conflict between competing "value-spheres" as well makes it impossible to specify the direction of social change. Weber would also point out that Habermas's theory is crippled by the "ontogenetic fallacy" embedded in even the most sophisticated evolutionary schemes. I will thus argue (following Weber) that Habermas's guiding assumption--that as individuals learn, societies "learn"--cannot be empirically demonstrated. Weber would remind us that any recognition of the complexity of reality renders such a position untenable. Weber offers no specific program designed to accomplish the goal of structural change and emancipation in modernity. However, in his view the plebiscitarian leader may offer a partial antidote to the often repressive forces of rationalization. Weber is also alive to the possibility that as instrumental rationality advances, it may be counterbalanced by value-rationality in various forms--for example, embodied in new social movements, or even a personal commitment to values on the part of individuals.

Divisions:Concordia University > School of Graduate Studies
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Pasdermajian, Penny
Pagination:ix, 214 leaves ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:School of Graduate Studies
Date:2005
Thesis Supervisor(s):Drysdale, John
ID Code:8709
Deposited By:Concordia University Libraries
Deposited On:18 Aug 2011 14:33
Last Modified:18 Aug 2011 14:33
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