Communicative Action's Democratic Deficit: A Critique of Habermas’s Contribution to Democratic Theory

Martín Plot


In this paper, I develop a critique of Habermas’ concept of communicative action. My critique is based on the concept’s inability to grasp the complexities of democratic politics and democratic political action. I first show that the central seed of this inability is to be found in his early masterpiece, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. This genealogical beginning is followed by a more conceptual critique of communicative action’s dichotomist foundations, its moralization of speech act’s theory, and its incorporation of the dyad’s dialogue as the elementary form of human communication. During this conceptual critique, I present a different notion of how the strategic and communicative dimensions of action intertwine in political action proper.

Full Text: