The two Habermases
in Human agents and social structures
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Jurgen Habermas is one of the most prominent social theorists writing today and his work illustrates central characteristics of contemporary social theory more widely. The majority of his work revolves around questions of structure and agency. The interaction order of the lifeworld is replaced by a dualism of system and individual or, in the language of many social theorists, structure and agency. According to Habermas, the system is the product of the enactment of abstract rationalized codes by individuals. Thus the recovery of the lifeworld in Habermas' work and the rejection of dualism can rectify the shortcomings of contemporary social theory more generally. Consequently, as Habermas stresses with increasing conviction from The Theory of Communicative Action on, there is 'system'. Organisations may aspire to the kind of purposive-rational decision- making which Habermas describes; in reality, however, organisations operate quite differently.

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