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Communicative action

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Communicative action is a concept associated with the German philosopher Jürgen Habermas. Habermas uses this concept to describe agency in the form of communication, which under his understanding is restricted to deliberation, i.e. the free exchange of beliefs and intentions under the absence of domination.

In sociological terms the communicative action is a social action that can be compared to instrumental action (self-interested), normative action (adapted to a shared value system) or dramaturgical action (one which is designed to be seen by others and to optimize our public self-image). Habermas claims that all of those actions are parasitic upon the communicative action, which goes beyond them (Habermas, 1991, volume 1., pp.82-101).

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  • Habermas, J. (1981). Theorie des kommunikativen Handelns (The Theory of Communicative Action), Frankfurt.


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