Axel Honneth and the tradition of radical reformism
In response to critics who have taken issue with what they understand as a turn away from the radical political potential of the early Frankfurt School in his critical theory of recognition, Axel Honneth's The Idea of Socialism continues the tradition of "radical reformism" established by Jürgen Habermas in his early work, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere and, more extensively, in his writings on the German student movement of the 1960s. In this chapter, I explore their ideas and contrast them with André Gorz's A Strategy for Labour. I then move on to two theorists whose work has strongly influenced Honneth's variant of socialism: John Dewey's Liberalism and Social Action and T. H. Marshall's evolving narrative of the relationship between capitalism and the welfare state. I posit that Honneth's 'socialism" remains constricted by a theoretical framework inherited by Habermas, suggesting that the "emancipatory intent" of the Frankfurt School and its current methodological paradigm(s) are difficult to reconcile and highlight the importance of the individual theorist's pre-scientific commitment.
Schmitz, V. (2019)., Axel Honneth and the tradition of radical reformism, in V. Schmitz (ed.), Axel Honneth and the critical theory of recognition, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 145-172.
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