Losing sight of power
the inadequacy of Axel Honneth's theory of the market and democracy
In Freedom's Right, Axel Honneth develops a novel argument for a theory of social freedom. This conception of social freedom places special emphasis on the normative resources provided by market society and a Deweyan conception of democracy. In this chapter, I raise the question of whether or not Honneth's privileging of the normative content of market society neglects the ways in which the structure of the modern economy can subvert democracy. Specifically, I suggest that the "misdeveloped" norms of the modern manifestations of the economy might actually socialize people in ways that stifle subjectivity and reconcile them to anti-democratic social hierarchies. In raising these concerns about Honneth's theory of the market and the democratic order to which he thinks we ought to aspire, I draw on the work of John Dewey, Robert Dahl, and Charles Lindblom to point to the anti-democratic dimensions of the modern economy.
Smulewicz-Zucker, G. (2019)., Losing sight of power: the inadequacy of Axel Honneth's theory of the market and democracy, in V. Schmitz (ed.), Axel Honneth and the critical theory of recognition, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 125-144.
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