Theory in Weberian marxism: Patterns of critical social theory in Lukacs and Habermas

Sociological Theory 15 (3):181-214 (1997)
Abstract
For Weberian Marxists, the social theories of Max Weber and Karl Marx are complementary contributions to the analysis of modern capitalist society. Combining Weber's theory of rationalization with Marx's critique of commodity fetishism to develop his own critique of reification, Georg Lukacs contended that the combination of Marx's and Weber's social theories is essential to envisioning socially transformative modes of praxis in advanced capitalist society. By comparing Lukacs's theory of reification with Habermas's theory of communicative action as two theories in the tradition of Weberian Marxism, I show how the prevailing mode of "doing theory" has shifted from Marx's critique of economic determinism to Weber's idea of the inner logic of social value spheres. Today, Weberian Marxism can make an important contribution to theoretical sociology by reconstituting itself as a framework for critically examining prevailing societal definitions of the rationalization imperatives specific to purposive-rational social value spheres (the economy, the administrative state, etc.). In a second step, Weberian Marxists would explore how these value spheres relate to each other and to value spheres that are open to the type of communicative rationalization characteristic of the lifeworld level of social organization
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