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Jürgen Habermas on Rationalization - Dictionary of Arguments

III 22
Rationalization/Sociology/Habermas: Understanding rational action orientations becomes the point of reference for understanding all action orientations.
For sociology, this means the following relationship between meta-theoretical and methodological level:
a) At the metatheoretical level, it chooses basic concepts that are tailored to the increase in rationality of modern life.
b) At the methodological level, the understanding of rational action orientations becomes a reference point for the understanding of all action orientations (>Theory of Meaningful Understanding). This is about internal relationships between meaning and validity.
III 209
Rationalization/HabermasVsMarx/VsAdorno/VsHorkheimer/VsWeber/Habermas: the concept of rationality of these authors is too narrow to grasp the comprehensive social rationality they have in mind. The term would have to be used at the same level as the productive forces, the subsystems of functional rational action, the totalitarian bearers of instrumental reason. That is not happening. The concept of action of these authors is not complex enough for this.
In addition, basic concepts of action and system theory must not be confused: LuhmannVsMarx, LuhmannVsWeber, LuhmannVsAdorno: the rationalization of action orientations and lifeworld structures is not the same as the increase in complexity of action systems. (1)
III 457
Communicative action/rationalization/HabermasVsWeber/Habermas: only when we differentiate between communicative and success-oriented action in "social action" can the communicative rationalization of everyday actions and the formation of subsystems for procedural rational economic and administrative action be understood as complementary development. Although both reflect the institutional embodiment of rationality complexes, in another respect they are opposite tendencies.
III 459
Rationalization/Habermas: the paradox of rationalization, of which Weber spoke, can be understood abstractly in such a way that the rationalization of the world allows a kind of system integration ((s) of subsystems with non-linguistic communication media such as money and power) that competes with the integration principle of ((s) linguistic) understanding and under certain conditions has a disintegrating effect on the world of life.
IV 451
Rationalization/Modernism/HabermasVsWeber/Habermas: Weber could not classify the problems of legitimacy that a positivistically undermined legal rule raises within the pattern of rationalization of modern societies, because he himself remained imprisoned by legal-positivist views.
Solution/Habermas: Thesis: (p) The emergence (...) of modern societies requires the institutional embodiment of moral and legal concepts of a post-traditional nature, but
(q) capitalist modernization follows a pattern according to which cognitive-instrumental rationality penetrates beyond the realms of economy and state into other, communicatively structured areas of life and takes precedence there at the expense of moral-practical and aesthetic-practical rationality.
(r) This causes disturbances in the symbolic reproduction of the lifeworld.
IV 452
Problem: a progressively rationalised lifeworld is simultaneously decoupled and made dependent on increasingly complex, formally organised areas of action such as economics and state administration. This takes sociopathological forms of internal colonization. To the extent that critical imbalances can only be avoided at the cost of disturbances in the symbolic reproduction of the lifeworld (i.e. of "subjectively" experienced crises or pathologies threatening identity).
IV 486
Paradoxically, rationalization releases both at the same time - the systemically induced reification and the utopian perspective from which capitalist modernization has always inherited the stigma that it dissolves traditional forms of life without saving their communicative substance.


1.N. Luhmann, Zweckbegriff und Systemrationalität, Tübingen 1968.


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Ha I
J. Habermas
Der philosophische Diskurs der Moderne Frankfurt 1988

Ha III
Jürgen Habermas
Theorie des kommunikativen Handelns Bd. I Frankfurt/M. 1981

Ha IV
Jürgen Habermas
Theorie des kommunikativen Handelns Bd. II Frankfurt/M. 1981


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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2021-05-13
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