Critical theory of society or self-critical society?

Critical Horizons 3 (1):131-158 (2002)
This paper presents a critical comparative reading of Ulrich Beck and Herbert Marcuse. Beck's thesis on 'selfcritical society' and the concept of 'sub-politics' are evaluated within the framework of Marcusian critical theory. We argue for the continued relevance of Marcuse for the project of emancipatory politics. We recognise that a focus upon the imminent and spontaneous possibilities for radical social change within the 'sub-political' is a useful provocation to the high abstractionism of much critical theory, but suggest that such possibilities are better captured in a Marcusian theoretical frame than they are in Beck's account.
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