Habermas on Civil Society, Lifeworld and System: Unearthing the Social in Transformation Theory
by Ted Fleming — January 27, 2002
The debate as to whether transformative learning theory has an adequate social dimension has contributed to the clarification and development of the theory. But this debate has been, to a great extent, framed within transformation theory as outlined by Mezirow. Transformation theory frequently refers to the work of Jürgen Habermas as providing important insights that are foundational for the theory. This paper outlines some key ideas from Habermas that are crucial to unearthing the social dimension in transformation theory. Habermas, in outlining a critical theory describes society in terms of the state, economy and civil society. In civil society he sees both an antidote to the effects that the system world has on civil society and also the possibility that the system can be made more democratically accountable. This paper shows how transformation, theory by drawing on these ideas, has a social dimension.
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