Modernization, rights, and democratic society: The limits of Habermas's democratic theory [Book Review]

Res Publica 11 (2):101-123 (2005)
Jürgen Habermas’s discourse-theoretic reconstruction of the normative foundations of democracy assumes the formal separation of democratic political practice from the economic system. Democratic autonomy presupposes a vital public sphere protected by a complex schedule of individual rights. These rights are supposed to secure the formal and material conditions for democratic freedom. However, because Habermas argues that the economy must be left to function according to endogenous market dynamics, he accepts as a condition of democracy (the formal separation of spheres) a social structure that is in fact anti-democratic. The value of self-determination that Habermas’s theory of democracy presupposes is contradicted by the actual operations of capitalist markets. Further democratic development demands that the steering mechanisms of the capitalist market be challenged by self-organizing civic movements.
Keywords capitalist market  democracy  Habermas  public sphere  rights  self-determination  self-organizing
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DOI 10.1007/s11158-005-1478-3
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