Toward a critique of systematically distorting communication technology: Habermas, baudrillard, and mass media

Social Philosophy Today 22:89-102 (2006)

Since seminal essays like Adorno’s ‘The Culture Industry’ and Benjamin’s ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,’ the mass media has been of central concern for Critical Theory. Yet Critical Theorists have produced relatively little in the way of systematic analysis of the concrete institutions of mass communication. Early on, Habermas seemed to be headed in this direction, especially with the publication of The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. However, in Habermas’s later years, this concern is eclipsed, on the one hand by an ideal theory of communication which says relatively little about non-ideal institutions that “systematically distort” communication, and on the other hand by an increasing focus on properly “political” institutions and the formal structure of law, exemplified by his later work Between Facts and Norms. In this essay, I will show how the colonization of public space by private interests, via technological media, remains sorely under-theorized in Habermas’s work, and that this is not just a peripheral oversight but a central problem that Habermas fails to resolve. I will then give some preliminary suggestions as to how one might expand and develop the critique of systematically distorted communication in more fruitful directions by developing the idea of a politics of meaning. My argument is located within the extensive discussion generated by the relatively recent translation of The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere into English, which has produced many useful and important criticisms
Keywords Conference Proceedings  Social and Political Philosophy
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2006
ISBN(s) 1543-4044
DOI 10.5840/socphiltoday20062215
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 46,509
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Impossibility of the Public.Hsin-I. Liu - 2006 - The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy 2:119-124.
The 'Public Sphere' and the Problem of 'Information'.D. Beybin Kejanlioğlu - 2007 - The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy 6:43-50.
Distorted Communications: Feminism's Dispute with Habermas.Pauline Johnson - 2001 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 27 (1):39-62.
Marcuse or Habermas: Two Critiques of Technology.Andrew Feenberg - 1996 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 39 (1):45 – 70.


Added to PP index

Total views
15 ( #593,328 of 2,286,511 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #864,088 of 2,286,511 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes

Sign in to use this feature