In the mid-1980s, Axel Honneth – successor to Jürgen Habermas, and now considered the most prominent representative of the Frankfurt School's third generation – made an important contribution to the sociophilosophical reading of Pierre Bourdieu's work that fundamentally shaped its German reception (see Behr, 2001). This contribution is marked by a clear ambivalence. On the one hand, it is obvious that it was in no way gratuitous. Honneth knew from the beginning that Bourdieu's work was to play a key role in his own project to renew the tradition of critical theory (Honneth, Basaure, Reemtsma and Willig, 2009). At the centre of this project was a reappropriation and revitalisation of the Hegelian concept of the ‘struggle for recognition’ (Honneth, 1995 ; 2000; 2003; 2007 ). On the other hand, Honneth's early texts, which contribute to the German reception of Bourdieu, are eminently critical of Bourdieu's work. In a monographic article presented in the early 1980s, Honneth (1984) advances the critique that Bourdieu's social theory tends to ignore the normative structuring of social life and instead takes up a utilitarian, strategic understanding of social action. This charge similarly dominates the interview Honneth and his colleagues conducted with Bourdieu, which was published two years later (Bourdieu, Honneth, Kocyba and Schwibs, 1986). I want to argue that this ambivalence cuts across Honneth's entire relationship with Bourdieu's work. Whilst Honneth rejects what he considers to be the socio-ontological foundations of Bourdieu's sociological theory, he draws upon the Bourdieusian approach and considers it as an expression of an exemplary sociology.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Sciences(all)