Habermas kommunikativa handlingsteori för studier av miljöpolitik: ett kulturteoretiskt förslag
2001 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
During the last 50 years, western European societies have been successful in creating economic growth, a functioning democracy and uniting these with social welfare. At the same time, environmental problems have become a major political challenge. Although some measures have been taken to introduce environmental protection, there continue to be serious problems. These can be related to democratic priorities and public information in the sense that they may, amongst other things, be a result of misinformed democratic publics. Jürgen Habermas's work is important for our understanding of how environmental problems can be managed better than today if, contrary to the ecoauthoritarian ideas, we consider that the solution to these problems calls for more democracy and better democratic forms. One can argue that his theory of communicative action makes it difficult to ignore him in debates about today's environmental problems. There are, nevertheless, three difficulties associated with developing a model based on Habermas's theory. Critics argue that, firstly, his theory has theoretical weaknesses; secondly, it is formulated in a way which makes empirical analysis impossible; and, thirdly, it cannot explain the rise of environmental protests and environmental movements, even if Habermas has this ambition.
In the thesis, it is considered that environmental problems are political-cultural questions. Accordingly, a political cultural theory is constructed to interprete Habermas's ideas and assess the arguments of his critics. This theory consists of assumptions about notions and types of language-use used in co-ordinating collective action. It is built on the following variables: view of knowledge, view of social values and nature, and view of language-use.
It is argued that Habermas's ideas can be defended, if one elaborates a political subculture that is biocentric (nature-centred), as a complement to anthropocentrism (a human-centred view of nature). Thus, his theory of communicative action can be used to develop a cultural model for empirical studies of environmental policy processes. The model consists of three cultural ideal types: anthropocentric material; anthropocentric immaterial; and biocentric immaterial. Obstacles to social learning and public participation, such as forms and styles of reasoning and the exclusion of citizens, are brought into focus. Finally, the model functions as a criticism of a neo-liberal view of environmental problems. Such a view lacks concepts for understanding how individuals consciously can co-ordinate their ideas and individual actions into a collective action.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet , 2001. , 36 p.
Statsvetenskapliga institutionens skriftserie, ISSN 0349-0831 ; 2001:2
Jürgen Habermas, communicative action, political culture, anthropocentrism, biocentrism, democratic process, neo-liberalism, environmental policy
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-65886ISBN: 91-7191-988-0OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-65886DiVA: diva2:606389
2001-03-16, Samhällsvetarhuset, hörsal C, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 13:15
List of papers