By marginalizing methodological and other more specialized theoretical concerns, this book focuses on Habermas's substantive portrayal of contemporary society and its discontents. Over the last four decades Jurgen Habermas has forged an innovative and much-discussed theory of contemporary capitalist society. Building on Max Weber's thesis that the dynamic of capitalism actually erodes individual freedom and the meaningfulness of social life - famously resulting in a culture of "specialists without spirit, sensualists without heart" - Habermas traces contemporary social conflict to resistance to this dynamic by a variety of social groups. His theory of "communicative action" attempts to show the possibilities in contemporary society for moving toward a more balanced social life that, unlike other political currents today, would not sacrifice the truly progressive features of complex modern societies.

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