Habermas, Kristeva, and Citizenship

By Noëlle McAfee | Go to book overview

1 Habermas’s Theory of
Postconventional Identity

Jürgen Habermas came of age in the aftermath of World War Π, in Germany, an ocean apart from the Frankfurt School of intellectuals who had fled fascism for the United States. Although he ultimately shared many of the aims and concerns of the members of the Institute for Social Research, his route to them had been distinctly different. As one interviewer writes:

Habermas was 15 when the Allies defeated Germany in 1945. He had
been a member of the Hitler Youth and had been sent, during the last
months of the war, to “man the western defenses.” His bourgeois fa-
ther had been a “passive sympathizer” with Nazism. Nazi society was
the only one the young Habermas had known. Then the Nuremberg
war-crimes trials started, and the first documentary films on the con-
centration camps appeared. “All at once we saw that we had been liv-
ing in a politically criminal system,” Habermas has explained. His po-
litical life began with this awakening. It established what he labels the
major “motif” of his politics: a vigilance against any recurrence of such
”politically criminal” behavior. (Stephens 1994)

Learning of the atrocities committed by his fellow Germans, Habermas felt firsthand the dismay with modernity that had led Adorno and Horkheimer to a “negative dialectics,” a pessimistic view of the progress of modernity. But where Adorno had become disenchanted with the Enlightenment, the young Habermas became all the more

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Habermas, Kristeva, and Citizenship
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Introduction Politics and Citizens 1
  • Part I - Subjectivity in the Making 21
  • 1 - Habermas's Theory of Postconventional Identity 23
  • 2 - Subjects-In-Process 56
  • Part II 79
  • 3 - Habermas on Citizens and Politics 81
  • 4 - the Split Subject in the Public Sphere 102
  • Part III 127
  • 5 - Relational Subjectivity 129
  • 6 - Complementary Agency 151
  • 7 - Ways of Knowing 164
  • 8 - Deliberative Communities 184
  • Bibliography 193
  • Index 205
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