Jürgen Habermas

WOW, guys. Juggling two kids and five classes has been easy compared to reading some of Habermas‘s work.

I’ll try to give you a better summary after we have an actual class lecture on Habermas tomorrow, but the basic idea I can get out of the 20 pages I read is that he came up with the concept of two main components to all societies: system and lifeworld. Understanding this part wasn’t too bad; the lifeworld is kind of the informal setting for our norms, and family is a big part of the lifeworld. The system is the political and economic formal institutions of society. But then the excerpts got into a very academic and theoretical discussion of how politics work – how we influence politics as citizens, how the mass media interacts with politics…and the second selection I had to read was really way over my head. I’d like to tell you what it was about, but it was full of sentences like this:

[The mass media] free communication processes from the provinciality of spatiotemporally restricted contexts and permit public spheres to emerge, through establishing the abstract simultaneity of a virtually present network of communication contents far removed in space and time and through keeping messages available for manifold contexts.

Anyone care to translate? So far my classes really haven’t been too challenging. I’ve had some struggles with the other critical theorists we’ve discussed in this particular class (Contemporary Sociological Theory), but Habermas…sheesh. My brain needs a break! I think I’ll finish reading How to Train Your Dragon now.

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4 Comments on “Jürgen Habermas”

  1. Sposita says:

    Is the quote “processes from” or “processes FORM?”. I can only make some sense of it if is “processes form.”

  2. KHL says:

    Okay, after some context and reading that excerpt over and over and over (here and on FB), I am beginning to see where he’s going. But use of terms like that is only helpful/necessary when the idea cannot be stated accurately using simpler terms. In this case, he seems to be using the academi-speech for effect, not clarity. Or maybe it was just easier for him.

    Since my biggest reading problem is actually absorbing what I read rather than have it bounce off my brain, I would have big problems with this writer. Good luck!!

  3. mikaroni says:

    Sposita – it is “processes from.” I think part of the confusion is that he uses “the mass media” as a plural, so instead of saying “The mass media frees us” (which sounds more normal to me, although it may not be grammatically correct) he says “The mass media free us” (except, of course, he doesn’t say “us” but rather a long confusing thing).

    I don’t know whether this makes a lot of difference, but the work was originally written in German. It was probably even more confusing then.

  4. sposita says:

    OK!!!!! Now I get it!!!! I didn’t get that free was the Verb. Seriously, he needs to use less words that can be either verbs or adjectives. =)

    After dissecting it grammatically, I think what he’s trying to say (which, to me it so ironic given that he’s talking about people communicating! why not say it plainly?!) is that the mass media makes us a larger community – a more global community because ideas/information that are happening Right Now EVERYWHERE are available (Before, ideas and information spread fairly slowly) and because ideas/information are available for everyone to apply their own spin to.

    Is that right?

    This is one sentence! I wouldn’t want to have to read pages of this! Good Luck!


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