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Legitimation Crisis Paperback – August 25, 1975

ISBN-13: 978-0807015216 ISBN-10: 0807015210

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Legitimation Crisis + The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society (Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought) + The Theory of Communicative Action, Volume 1: Reason and the Rationalization of Society
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 196 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (August 25, 1975)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807015210
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807015216
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #158,733 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Shall we sit back and watch our social system crumble on the TV screen? Or can we step out of our private views and interests, figure out what is objectively good for the human species and act on it? More than any other diagnosis of our present crisis, such as Heilbroner's, Barraclough's, or Ehrlich's, Habermas's Legitimation Crisis penetrates its deepest causes and the prospects for change. Habermas is neither an optimist nor a pessimist; he neither appeases nor alarms. He combines comprehensive knowledge, and a rare objectivity, with a commitment to rationality and social democracy." – Jeremy J. Shapiro

"The work is a landmark in critical social analysis." – Times Literary Supplement

Language Notes

Text: English, German (translation) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Steven A. Peterson TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 1, 2007
Format: Paperback
Jurgen Habermas' Legitimation Crisis explores crisis tendencies in late capitalism and the possible order that might follow. Crises themselves come about from unresolved problems that begin to raise questions about the nature and efficacy of the system. When people lose faith in the values undergirding a system, the regime in power and, perhaps, even the entire system itself comes to be at risk.

The underlying engine of crisis is the economic system. He notes that "In liberal capitalism, crises appear in the form of unresolved economic steering problems" and ". . .crises become endemic because temporarily unresolved steering problems, which the process of economic growth produces at more or less regular intervals, as such endanger social integration." Economic crisis might occur when output declines and its distribution becomes increasingly unequal, so disproportionate that it raises questions about the fairness and viability of the system. In this way, the ideology supporting capitalism would come under question and cease generating loyalty from the people. If government capabilities are questioned too much by citizens, crisis develops, and people come to lose faith in the ideology supporting the system and the system's legitimacy in dividing up the pie so that all gain "fairly."

People will not be actively involved in politics as long as their careers, family lives, and enjoyment of consuming material goods continue. Under such circumstances, they allow the capitalist economy and government to operate with rather little question. By providing an appropriate level of "goodies" to the people, the system renders the masses quiescent and allows the elite to remain in power.
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10 of 25 people found the following review helpful By David Kerby on November 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
The German political and social philosopher Jurgen Habermas is heir to the semantically rich tradition of Frankfurt School thinkers. These men (and sadly, they are mainly men, although Hannah Arendt is in some sense in this circle) were seriously threatened by the collapse of the Weimar Republic. Their decision to go into exile in the United States should probably be controversial. Habermas is profoundly influenced by Marx, Weber, Freud, and Talcott Parsons, and wrote this book in the context of uprisings against the Viet Nam War. What we are seeing right now, Bush versus Gore in a contested election in which the very structure of the United States government is being questioned, could be illuminated by careful study of this book. I commend it to the attention of anyone who would better understand a moment in United States history which has been descibed as a constitutional crisis.
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