Introduction: Habermas, Pragmatism, Interactionism

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Publication Date

Fall 1992

Publication Title

Symbolic Interaction





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The editor of Symbolic Interaction asked me to organize a special journal issue around the themes of our panel. I accepted the offer and, in turn, invited Jurgen Habermas to respond to our critiques. He took up the challenge, and we hope to publish his rejoinder in one of the following issues.

All authors who contributed to this collection welcome the growing interest in American pragmatism and interactionist sociology among European scholars. This interest marks a break with the Continental tradition that used to downplay philosophical pragmatism as a crude attempt to legitimate American capitalism. Jurgen Habermas’s Theory of Communicative Action (TCA) is the most ambitious effort to-date to salvage “that radical democratic mentality which is present in the best American traditions and articulated in American pragmatism” (Habermas 1985, p. 198). While hailing the prospects for a trans-Atlantic dialogue, most writers on this side of the Atlantic agree that European thinkers tend to read pragmatism through the distinctly continental lenses. Indeed, Habermas’s work shows vestiges of rationalism, and he does appear to underestimate pragmatism’s native roots when he describes American pragmatism as “a missing branch of Young Hegelianism” (Habermas 1986, p. 193).


Habermas; Jürgen; Interaction (Philosophy); Pragmatism; Symbolic interactionism


Social Psychology and Interaction | Sociology | Sociology of Culture




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