Recognition and resistance

Recognition and resistance Axel Honneth’s critical social theory

Roger foster

beginning. Yet, as we shall see, the shortcomings of his own project are also largely due to a continued adherence to the critical framework opened by the ʻKantian turnʼ, of which Habermas remains the chief expositor.

Culture and criticism

In an early essay, entitled ʻCommunication and Reconciliation: Habermasʼs Critique of Adornoʼ, Honneth affirmed the necessity of Habermasʼs efforts to ground a normative framework for critique, as a way out of the allegedly intractable pessimism and negativism which marked Adornoʼs philosophy, after the Frankfurt Schoolʼs original interdisciplinary research programme had been rendered obsolete. Essentially, this essay constituted a more or less faithful Habermasian reading of the problems of Adornoʼs project, charging that, having reduced rationality to instrumental rationality, Adorno was forced to locate the potential for reconciliation in the ʻmimetic knowledgeʼ of the artwork. [2] Because Adorno does not distinguish between the normative terms of social interaction and the logic of the appropriation of nature, he is forced to deploy an ʻovertaxingʼ, ʻtheologicalʼ model of reconciliation. Thus it is only through endorsing Habermasʼs distinction between the praxis of intersubjective interaction and the poiesis of engagement with objects that one can recover the possibility of ʻtheoretically guided political practiceʼ. [3] Yet also, and importantly, Honneth locates a central failing of Adornoʼs later work in its inability to formulate any idea of, or theoretical basis for, collective struggle. The immediate penetration into consciousness of the ideological products of the culture industry, together with the (alleged) absolute separation between the mimetic knowledge of the artwork and the instrumental rationality prevalent in society, meant that ʻthe Critical theory, by its very nature, opposes reduction to a corpus of historically frozen doctrine. None was more acutely aware than the inner circle of the Institut für Sozialforschung that a theory which resists adaptation to the changing nature of society forsakes its critical purpose, turning instead into another form of theoretical dogmatism. [1] Rather than being identified through commitment to a fixed body of ideas, critical theory might be defined by what Horkheimer, in his well-known essay ʻTraditional and Critical Theoryʼ, termed the ʻcritical attitudeʼ. This denotes a commitment to social change which is conscious of itself as an intervention whose claim to validity is inextricable from the demands of the historical juncture in which it arises. To do ʻcritical theoryʼ, then, is always to be engaged in a process of reconstruction and reformulation. The work of Axel Honneth constitutes a powerful and ambitious attempt to extend this tradition, by developing a theoretical perspective capable of deciphering the changed logics of social struggle in late modern societies.

Honneth claims that the diverse and fragmentary forms of struggle which occur along the multiple axes of gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity and class can be brought under the theoretical umbrella of a morally motivated struggle for recognition, in which social actors raise normative claims against social arrangements in which they feel ʻdisrespectedʼ. Before discussing this project in greater detail, I shall begin by looking at how Honneth has attempted to distinguish the ʻcritical theory of recognitionʼ from ʻfirstgenerationʼ Frankfurt School theorists (Horkheimer and Adorno), as well as from Habermas. I believe it can be shown that Honneth manages to overcome a number of the most problematic features that have dogged Habermasʼs theoretical endeavours from the experience of oppressionʼ, for Adorno, ʻcan be formulated only on an individual basisʼ. Adorno no longer expects ʻthe contradictions of capitalist accumulationʼ to ʻgenerate class resistanceʼ. [4]

It is the combination of a commitment to a version of Habermasʼs distinction between the sphere of normative interaction and the sphere of production, with the perceived need to link the perspective of normative critique with forms of opposition and resistance emerging within social reality itself, which has defined the direction of Honnethʼs project. However, the commitment to the first of these ideas means accepting Habermasʼs break with historical materialism, which consequently renders problematic the second, since the actors within social reality who might be charged with the task of transforming the established order can no longer be identified by their position within the economic structure. Struggle was no longer reducible to class struggle. Rather than following Habermasʼs tendency to bracket the question of critical theoryʼs location within social reality, Honneth has attempted to develop a response to this question in tune with a commitment to the pluralization of the political Left, thereby breaking the exclusive identification of domination with economic domination.

The solution to this problem emerges from an account of the cultural sphere as the location of ʻpractical-critical activityʼ, which Honneth begins to develop in Critique of Power. [5] Arguing against Horkheimerʼs early efforts to develop critical theory within the framework of a Marxist philosophy of history, Honneth seeks to uncover a realm of quasi-autonomous cultural activity which, he argues, is suppressed by the identification of the goals of critical activity with the ends of the production process. Such a conception of cultural activity, Honneth argues, would involve the ʻcooperative testing and problematizing of interpretations worked out within the groupʼ. Insight into the injustice of the economic structure within the cultural horizon of oppressed groups may then be formulated as an insight which forces group members to ʻcorrect and expand the traditional horizon of interpretation in the face of unmasked realityʼ. Social struggle may be theorized as the attempt by social groups ʻto realize within the normative structures of social life the norms of action acquired in the repeated experience of suffering injusticeʼ. [6] This potentially critical force of cultural praxis, however, is ruled out by Horkheimerʼs exclusive stress on the socializing function of the cultural sphere – its operation as a superstructure that reflects ʻthe behavioural constraints of the economic system back upon the individual psycheʼ. [7] Consequently, Horkheimer is forced to fall back on a determinist philosophy of history in which the potential for transformative praxis emerges from objective contradictions rooted within the economic structure.

A point worth raising here, to which Honneth does not give due consideration, is whether this view of the cultural in Horkheimer is attributable to a theoretical decision, or whether it is a result of what Horkheimer perceives to be the fate of culture within monopoly capitalism. Honneth assumes it is the former, and thus attributes it to Horkheimerʼs adherence to a ʻMarxist functionalismʼ. [8] But there are passages in ʻTraditional and Critical Theoryʼ that lend credence to the latter interpretation. At one point, Horkheimer refers to the changed nature of the ʻdependence of the cultural on the economicʼ, suggesting that ʻeconomic factors more directly and consciously determine menʼ, and ʻthe solidity and relative capacity for resistance of the cultural spheres are disappearingʼ. [9] Granted that Horkheimer relates this capacity for resistance to a rather crude psychology, stressing the role of the independent bourgeois subject, the question of whether particular structural arrangements incapacitate cultural resistance remains a plausible one which, I shall argue later, Honneth needs to address.

Honnethʼs reading of Horkheimer and Adornoʼs ʻnegativismʼ as reaching its inevitable conclusion in the abandonment of an emancipatory perspective in Dialectic of Enlightenment is clearly indebted to Habermasʼs interpretation, according to which the failure of Horkheimer and Adorno to ground an emancipatory perspective is ascribable to their failure to recognize the autonomy of the sphere of communicative action. Honneth praises Habermasʼs theorizing of the sphere of communication for providing critical theory with a normative standard, which allows for the construction of a critical perspective on social structures. [10] However, Honnethʼs adherence to Habermasʼs theory is tempered by a rejection of Habermasʼs severance of communicative understanding from a relation to the forms of critical activity rooted within social praxis. Honneth believes that Habermasʼs abstract reading of communicative understanding produces a false opposition between norm-free power and power-free communication: the sphere of conflict and struggle, and the sphere of discourse. [11] In Struggle for Recognition, Honneth attempts to integrate these elements through a theory of morally motivated struggle. Before looking at this in greater detail, it is worthwhile briefly examining the specifics of Honnethʼs critique of Habermas.

Honneth’s critique of habermas

In an earlier essay, ʻDiskursethik und implizites Gerechtigkeitskonzeptʼ, which prefigures the attempt in Struggle for Recognition to render concrete Habermasʼs idealized representation of communicative understanding in the form of formal structures of ethical life, Honneth argues that Habermasian discourse ethics must be extended to incorporate a conception of material justice. The basis of this critique is the fact that discourse ethics relies upon a ʻdialogue which is to be actually carried outʼ, and as a result, it cannot be indifferent to the conditions which make that dialogue possible. What is at stake here, Honneth argues, is the impossibility of interpreting ethics as a procedure of discursive will-formation while, at the same time, failing to grant moral worth to the socialstructural relations which represent the necessary social conditions for the putting into effect of those forms of will-formation. [12] Among these conditions are social structures of intersubjective recognition, through which individuals gain a degree of autonomy permitting them freely to take a position on morally disputed norms. [13] Discourse ethics also presupposes a freedom from all forms of institutional and cultural coercion, and an equal access to social information and cultural traditions of education, such that individuals would possess equal means to set forth their convictions in argument in a convincing manner. [14]

Honneth has also been critical of Habermasʼs reduction of the sphere of work to instrumental action, with regard to the difficulty it generates for forming a critical perspective on the organization of the work process itself. [15] Since he distinguished the instrumental action characteristic of productive activity from the communicative action of social praxis in his early essay on Hegelʼs Jena social philosophy, [16] Habermas has had very little to say about the potential of different arrangements and structurings of the work process to promote or suffocate autonomy, or to render work meaningful or monotonous. In his essay ʻWork and Instrumental Actionʼ, Honneth argues that cutting the Marxian link between social emancipation and the consciousness-forming potential of social labour does not imply the necessity of doing away with a ʻcritical concept of workʼ altogether. Rather, we can make an internal differentiation within instrumental action according to whether the work process enables independent activity, initiative, and a minimal degree of external control. [17] Such a distinction would allow for the theorizing of the potential for moral conflict within the work process itself. This critique reflects the extent of the influence of the researches of Edward Thompson and Barrington Moore on Honnethʼs ideas, each of whom, through the notion of ʻmoral economyʼ and the postulation of an implicit ʻsocial contractʼ, respectively, furnished the means for an understanding of the struggle between capital and labour as a form of moral struggle. [18] More recently, Honneth has argued that the importance of rendering the labour process accessible to moral categories stems from the fundamental connection between work and ʻself-esteemʼ. Since self-identity is integrally bound to the way the significance of oneʼs labour is constituted socially, it is necessary that the labour process be organized in such a way that it permits the generation and sustaining of a form of self-respect. [19]

Perhaps the most important aspect of Honnethʼs critique of Habermas has been the charge that Habermasʼs discourse ethics fails to gain access to the moral claims of underprivileged groups. In his essay ʻMoral Consciousness and Class Dominationʼ, Honneth argues that Habermasʼs formulation of moral validity in terms of discursive agreement overlooks class-specific differences in the expression of normative claims. The moral ideals of oppressed groups, Honneth claims, take the form of a ʻconsciousness of wrongʼ, as a ʻhighly sensitive sensorium for injuries of moral claims presumed to be justʼ. Since the everyday experience of oppressed groups does not require normative abstraction, the moral intuitions of these groups remain tied to their emotional engagement in particular situations, in a way which resists the systematization of their moral experiences in formal/abstract norms of action. [20] Habermasʼs discourse ethics, in seeking to provide a forum for the new-found sensitivity of privileged social groups towards material deprivation, unwittingly de-moralizes the normative claims of the oppressed by identifying moral claims with universal validity claims raised in public discourse – an arena and a form of expression which are resisted by the moral intuitions of the oppressed. This gives rise to a subsequent difficulty: through equating the normative potential of social interaction with the ʻlinguistic conditions of reaching understanding free from dominationʼ, Honneth argues, Habermasian critical theory becomes unable to locate a standpoint within social reality which corresponds to the normative point of view of the theorist. For the restriction of intuitively mastered rules of language is too far removed from how subjects understand and experience injuries to their moral intuitions to be able to guide, theoretically, experiences of injustice felt by lifeworld actors. Honneth suggests that the everyday experience of injustice should be reconstructed theoretically, not as the violation of communicative rules, but as the ʻviolation of identity claims acquired in socializationʼ. [21] In this way, the normative content of the idea of communicative action can be transferred to the idea of social recognition, and in consequence critical theory becomes capable of giving expression to the everyday experience of injustice. Also worth noting here is that this theory seems capable of dealing far more adequately with the ʻmotivational deficitʼ. A constitutive weakness of Habermasʼs critical theory has been the impossibility of communicative rules linking up with the concrete motivations of lifeworld actors. Habermas has, instead, been forced to instrumentalize the relation between communicative rules and empirical motivation by conceiving social and institutional structures as a functional complement to normative validity, ensuring the compatibility between the moral point of view and structures of motivation by technocratic means. [22]

We can now see more clearly how Honneth has endeavoured to maintain critical theoryʼs link with a viewpoint within social reality, whilst accepting the consequence of Habermasʼs distinction between the independent logics of communicative and productive activity: namely, that this critical viewpoint can no longer be read off from the location of actors within the production process. The ʻpretheoretical resourceʼ of critical theory is now to be found in the socially transformative potential of experiences of disrespect which arise when culturally sustained understandings and interpretations of justice are violated.

Indignation and disrespect

In Struggle for Recognition, Honneth has sought to reconstruct critical theory in a way which renders it more concrete and attuned to the moral claims of oppressed social groups, by turning to philosophical anthropology, against Habermasʼs attempt to ground critical theory in a theory of language. By this means, Honneth hopes to render substantial the normative presuppositions of communicative action by reconfiguring those presuppositions as social conditions necessary for a positive relation to self. Like Habermas, but with different results, Honneth turns to the social theory of the young Hegel to lay the foundations for this reconstruction. Whereas Habermas had focused on how the young Hegel managed to capture the interrelation between the structures of labour and symbolic interaction without subordinating the developmental logic of the one to the other, Honneth turns to Hegel for the social-philosophical basis of a theory of morally motivated struggle. Honneth draws substantially upon Ludwig Siepʼs reading of Hegelʼs struggle for recognition as a reworking of the Hobbesian struggle for self-preservation such that, according to Siep, the struggle takes shape as part of the ethical formation (Bildung) of individuals, a reading which allows the transition from the state of nature to ethical life to be presented as an ethical development. [23] This gives Honneth the all-important bridge he needs to the theoretical reconstruction of struggle as founded on moral claims.

After filtering this conception through the social psychology of George Herbert Mead, which, Honneth claims, allows for the draining of the residue of idealism from Hegelʼs conception, Honneth focuses on a reconstruction of the idea of a struggle for recognition through a critique of sociological theories of conflict, and philosophical conceptions of the moral point of view. The sociological critique concerns the reliance upon a utilitarian model of conflict (the ʻinterests modelʼ), which, following Talcott Parsons, Honneth traces back to Hobbes. It is also said to be apparent in Marxʼs transition to a ʻreductionistʼ, ʻquasi-utilitarianʼ view in his systematic writings. [24] Such theories are capable of conceiving emancipation solely in distributive terms – that is, as a question of economic equality and inequality alone. [25] Social theoryʼs fixation on interests, Honneth claims, ʻhas so thoroughly obscured our view of the societal significance of moral feelings that today recognition-theoretic models of conflict have the duty not only to extend but possibly to correctʼ. [26]

What characterizes the ʻrecognition-theoreticʼ model is the claim that motives for social resistance are not reducible to physical needs, but are integrally related to moral feelings of indignation and disrespect, and are formed ʻin the context of moral experiences stemming from the violation of deeply rooted expectations regarding recognitionʼ. These expectations ʻare internally linked to conditions for the formation of personal identityʼ. [27] Among those who have helped to uncover this ʻmoral grammarʼ of social conflict, Honneth claims, are Edward Thompson and Barrington Moore, who have shown that motivations for engaging in resistance cannot be related solely to questions concerning levels of economic provision, but must be interpreted in terms of the ʻmoral expectationsʼ which are implicit in a particular social situation. This recognition-theoretic model of struggle is clearly an extension of the notion of ʻpractical-criticalʼ activity originally delineated in opposition to Horkheimerʼs understanding of praxis. Feelings of moral disrespect, Honneth argues, become the basis for collective resist-ance when subjects articulate them within an ʻintersubjective framework of interpretationʼ. [28]

In the final section of Struggle for Recognition, Honneth offers a ʻtheoretical justificationʼ for the ʻnormative point of viewʼ which, he claims, is implicit in the moral claims raised in forms of social struggle. The goal is to render explicit the moral logic implicit in forms of social conflict, which are to be understood as part of a process of moral development. This, the philosophical component of Honnethʼs analysis, attempts (all too briefly) a synthesis of the Kantian and Hegelian traditions of political thought through the delineation of what Honneth calls a ʻformalʼ conception of ethical life. The key is the idea of socialstructural conditions of individual self-realization, through which the universalism of Kantian ethics is rendered substantial in terms of the social and institutional conditions for self-worth, or self-respect, which constitute a prerequisite of individual self-realization. Honneth grounds this analysis in the Hegelian idea of the intersubjective structure of personal identity. He takes this to imply the dependence of a positive relation to self on the ways in which one finds oneʼs identity confirmed in different forms of recognition constituted through lifeworld structures. The three forms of recognition which, according to Honneth, serve as preconditions of self-realization are love, rights and solidarity, to which correspond three forms of positive self-relation: self-confidence, self-respect and self-esteem. Whereas love concerns recognition as a needy being, rights are secured through legally guaranteed autonomy, and solidarity is sustained through an encompassing value horizon, in terms of which individuals are valued for their particular abilities and traits. [29]

Honneth claims that it is the injuries to personal integrity which arise from violations of the socially sustained forms of recognition encompassed by rights and solidarity that drive the process of social struggle. These violations occur through a denial of rights or a devaluing of communally sustained forms of self-realization. It is clear that Honnethʼs intention is to fit the dynamics of struggle into the philosophical frame of the liberal-communitarian debate. But this gives cause to question what, exactly, is justifying what here. Is the ʻformalʼ structure of ethical life being deduced from the logic of social conflict, or is the latter serving simply as empirical support for a Hegelian liberalism? And if, as Honneth claims, [30] the ʻintersubjective prerequisitesʼ of a ʻsuccessful lifeʼ are historically variable, might it not also be the case that normative claims emerge through forms of struggle which a liberal-communitarian structuring of the conditions of self-realization proves unable to satisfy? Further, might there not be occasions when the cultural understandings through which an oppressed group works out an interpretation of the ground of the disrespect it endures are in systematic conflict with the necessary conditions of its emancipation? If so, the relation between critical activity rooted in culture and emancipatory struggle might not be as straightforward as Honneth implies. Before addressing these questions, it is worthwhile looking briefly at the notion of ʻsocial pathologyʼ, which Honneth has introduced more recently into this project.In his introduction to Pathologien des Sozialen: Die Aufgaben der Sozialphilosophie, Honneth traces the history of the tradition of ʻsocial philosophyʼ from Rousseau through Marx and the early sociologists. Social philosophy, he suggests, is defined by its concern with historically specific forms of social pathology. The central idea is that particular organizations of social life are analysed in terms of internal, structural distortions that act as barriers to a successful human life. The idea of ʻpathologyʼ denotes a diagnosis of a social anomaly (sozialer Mißstand) that is rooted in certain structural features of a particular process of social development, which undermine the conditions of a successful life. [31] Thus, for example, the sociological theories of Durkheim, Tönnies, Simmel and Weber can be seen as addressing in different ways the problem of the loss of ʻethical orientationʼ, related to certain distorting effects on the social lifeworld of the generalized expansion of capitalist economic processes. [32] With Habermas, the determination of social pathology takes the form of a process of ʻcolonizationʼ, through which the strategic rationality of systems governed by mechanisms of money and power displace the sphere of communicative consensus. Honneth argues that this rationalist understanding of pathology ought to be replaced with the determination of pathologies of recognition. This calls for ʻresearch that concerns itself with the empirical state in which the institutional embodiments of [recognition in the form of love/friendship, rights, and self-esteem] are foundʼ. [33] This is a significant development in Honnethʼs work, since it signals the intention of retaining important aspects of the substantive social critique found in earlier critical theory in the form of the investigation of ʻsocial contradictionsʼ. It is clear that Honnethʼs own critical project intends something different from and more than the narrow focus of left-Rawlsianism on the normative principles underlying political structures. [34]

Rethinking resistance

We have seen how, by arguing that cultural resistance has a normative logic, Honneth attempts to mediate Habermasʼs Kantianism with a reading of collective struggle located at the cultural level, such that the abstract ʻoughtʼ of Kantian critique can be reinscribed, in Hegelian fashion, as a form of inner-social transcendence. This perspective allows Honneth to make a decisive break with the ʻtheory of manipulationʼ central to Adornoʼs reading of the effectiveness of the culture industry in generating the unreflective conformity of underprivileged groups. Adorno, as Honneth rightly points out, overlooks the significant point that ideological messages propagated by the culture industry are always mediated through the subcultural horizon of interpretation, which offsets any direct and automatic reproduction of ideological messages in the personality structures of the individual. [35] By overlooking the cultural level, Adorno was led to conceive the individual as a ʻpassive victimʼ of directed techniques of domination.

The worth of Honnethʼs analysis as a critique of the simplistic model of the stifling of resistance in the work of ʻfirst-generationʼ theorists is unquestionable, and chimes with the insights of social reproduction theorists into the autonomous logic of the cultural. Exemplary among the latter works is Paul Willisʼs landmark ethnographic study Learning to Labour, which demonstrates convincingly that the structural forces bearing upon individuals at the lower end of the class structure are always and necessarily mediated through the meanings and attitudes sustained through cultural practices, which are potentially capable of sustaining forms of contestation and resistance. Willis calls this process ʻcultural productionʼ. [36] Thus the consent of individuals to live under conditions of structurally induced oppression can only be understood through an account of how and why they come to accept their situation in terms of the meanings and interpretations sustained at the cultural level.

So far as it goes, then, Honnethʼs critique of earlier critical theorists would seem to be legitimate. The question I want to raise here is the following: is Honnethʼs reading of the connection between the production of cultural meaning and the capacity of the cultural level to serve as the focal point for resistance against dominant norms as unproblematic as his analysis seems to imply? For to claim that domination is always understood through the mediation of groupspecific interpretations leaves open the question of the conditions under which ʻcultural productionʼ would be capable of constructing interpretations that might serve as the basis for social resistance. [37] All too often, in fact, the potential of cultural resistance gets stuck between the ʻrockʼ of a neutralizing assimilation to dominant interpretations of liberal individualism and the ʻhard placeʼ of an outright rejection of the dominant value system. In neither of these cases can culture form the basis for the constructive critique of dominant norms, which Honnethʼs account of the moral logic of social resistance requires. A good example of outright rejection would be the complex cultural construct that Philippe Bourgois has termed ʻinner-city street cultureʼ. [38] Definitive of ʻstreet cultureʼ, which is characteristically a construct of racial/ethnic minorities under conditions of intense economic exclusion and ubiquitous racism, is adherence to a set of rebellious practices which often function by inverting the dominant, white middle-class value system in a way that permits the pain and humiliation of social exclusion to be lived, at least in the short term, as a form of culturally defined superiority. Clearly, an effect of this will be to prevent the experience of disrespect from functioning as a spur to morally motivated resistance by redefining the parameters of personal respect. [39]

Honneth, in fact, is well aware of the specific mechanisms of this process of the deflection of opposition, in which cultural reinterpretations offset resistance by redefining ʻrespectʼ. He suggests that we focus on how ʻa moral culture could be so constituted as to give those affected, disrespected and ostracized the individual strength to articulate their experiences in the democratic public sphere, rather than living them out in the countercultures of violenceʼ. [40] However, presenting the problem in this way is indicative of an untenable ʻHabermasianʼ faith in the capacity of the ʻdemocratic public sphereʼ to sustain the expression of genuine cultural resistance, which overlooks the extent to which oppositional subcultures can be understood as a reaction to patterns of social exclusion whose very existence is denied within the democratic public sphere itself. This point connects with the second way of deflecting opposition mentioned above: namely, the neutralizing assimilation of the oppositional force of forms of culturally based resistance. It is this process which causes the most problems for Honnethʼs theory.

What I have in mind here, broadly, is the claim that the ʻculturalʼ is articulated, politicized and constructed within the public sphere of late capitalism in such a way that a genuine oppositional stance is effectively excluded. Wendy Brown has argued that this takes place through the transformation of cultural opposition into ʻidentity politicsʼ, a conversion which ʻrecasts politicized identityʼs substantive (and often deconstructive) cultural claims and critiques as generic claims of particularism endemic to universalist political cultureʼ. [59] By this means, cultural resistance can be deflected from a critique of capitalist economic structures and from a critique of bourgeois cultural values. By converting cultural opposition into claims to the affirmation of cultural particularity, the link is effectively broken between oppression and the reproduction of socio-economic structures – that is to say, between ʻculturalʼ exclusion and material exclusion. Thus, for example, the construal within the public sphere of the political claims of gay and lesbian groups as identity politics prevents the question of ʻcultural affirmationʼ from functioning as a critique of the way in which social and economic structures reproduce heterosexuality as the norm. [42]

Honnethʼs account, I suggest, places too much faith in the ability of the ʻmoral doctrines and ideasʼ of the wider society to sustain a platform for effective resistance. [43] This causes him to miss the connection between these ʻmoral doctrines and ideasʼ and a form of liberal individualist ideology which separates cultural affirmation from operations of oppression and exclusion rooted in social and economic structures. [44] The very paradox of cultural opposition seems to be that constructive engagement can only be engendered by forfeiting the possibility of effective resistance (assimilation through identity politics), whereas concerted resistance can only be maintained by forsaking the possibility of constructive engagement (the value-inversions of excluded subcultures). To account for this, we would need to focus on the way that the conditions – stated and unstated – of participation in the ʻdemocratic public sphereʼ effectively offset and defuse the possibility of resistance by requiring of oppressed groups adherence to a liberal-individualist belief-system which is central to the reproduction of the structures that dominate them. It is this which, for example, leads to the defusing of claims to sexual liberation through transforming them into claims to the freedom of a private sexual identity. Accounting for the barriers to effective cultural resistance would also mean that we would need to recover a concept which is entirely missing from Honnethʼs account – namely, ideology. Honnethʼs portrayal of how ʻhurt feelingsʼ become the basis for collective resistance, through being articulated in an ʻintersubjective framework of interpretationʼ that shows them to be ʻtypical for an entire groupʼ, [45] relies upon an idealized notion of cultural autonomy, and consequently entirely overlooks how the pressure of liberal ideology, which continually reinforces the tendency of individuals to view their situation in individualistic terms, is in many cases precisely what prevents this type of oppositional group formation from taking place. [46] This is likely to be especially prevalent where the oppression in question concerns, or indirectly intersects with, class. The autonomous, sovereign subject of liberalism is constructed precisely through diverting attention from domination rooted in the economic structure and portraying the distribution and positioning of individuals within this structure as the outcome of individual effort, thus reinforcing the notion that individuals as individuals are responsible for a failure to achieve, and blocking their awareness of the structures which dominate them as a group. [47] It is perhaps the predominance of a liberal individualist ideology which, more than anything, forces excluded groups towards an explicit rejection of the dominant value system by implicitly denying the existence of forms of structural oppression subordinating individuals as a (racial, ethnic, sexual, class or gender-based) group.

Honneth represents the autonomy of the liberal subject in terms of legal recognition, which provides for the possibility of ʻsymmetrical esteem among legally autonomous citizensʼ. [48] Thus within the mutuality of law, through which subjects are constituted as autonomous, the claims of self-realization appear as claims for the recognition of particularity. But does this not simply rewrite in the terms of ʻcultureʼ the representation of the political as a boundary point of private egoism? And consequently, by reading culturally based claims as private assertion, might not the result of this construction be simply to disguise structural inequality by depoliticizing cultural claims? The way in which gender domination is reproduced in economic structures, for example, cannot be addressed merely by reasserting the value of the feminine. We should recall here Honnethʼs wavering on the relation between recognition and interests. Honneth follows a line of theorists who have sought to integrate cultural claims into the notion of social justice. [49] But what is lacking from his work thus far is an account of the relation between the denial of recognition and structurally reproduced forms of material exclusion. This problem becomes doubly acute when we take account of the Foucauldian insight that subjects must be understood as partial effects of their subjugation by particular structures of social power. In these circumstances, to seek emancipation through recognition of cultural particularity, say (to give one overworked example) the re-valorization of the role of women as private ʻcarersʼ, only serves to re-legitimize the structures of economic domination which forced women into the subordinate role of providing care to men. [50] This process can only obscure how cultural claims are always already marked by structurally produced domination. Treating claims to recognition as identity claims seems to rest upon the untenable notion that oppression can be overcome without political, social and economic transformation merely by writing class-blindness, gender-blindness, sex-blindness and colour-blindness into the state – in the form of the autonomous legal subject. What happens, in fact, is that by allowing the abstract legal recognition which constitutes autonomous personhood to condition and delimit the sphere of articulation left to cultural self-expression, Honnethʼs account prevents the transfiguration of identity in an expanded politics by naturalizing that identity as a form of private interest.

What this argument suggests is that the turn to culture as the site of the critical potential of the present does not provide for the sort of unproblematic link-up between the critique of current society and the anticipation of an emancipated future which Honnethʼs account implies. The ease with which dominant norms appear able to subsume forms of opposition as particularistic identity claims – neutralizing their political force through naturalizing them – might in fact appear as a vindication of Adornoʼs scepticism concerning the openness and transformability of the modern social order. Adornoʼs argument, in his essay ʻSocietyʼ, that human beings are constituted by the exchange system indicates precisely the relation between identity claims and structures of power that renders problematic any attempt to treat those claims as immediately constituting the basis for a transformative politics. Without a transfiguration of those identities, Adorno believes, cultural resistance can only, on each occasion, reinforce the ʻtriumph of integrationʼ which reconciles human beings to the structures that dominate them. [51] One must ask whether a similar false integration is also produced through the granting of a legal autonomy that works through privatizing cultural difference, such that the structural basis of cultural opposition is obscured. I do not intend here, however, to affirm a picture of the individual as a ʻpassive victimʼ of techniques of domination. Honneth is surely right to criticize the thesis of the internalization of ideology of earlier critical theory, according to which the demands of system reproduction are directly replicated in the personality structure of the individual. But in no sense does it follow from this that individual or collective action does not occur under conditions of severe structural constraint and the ubiquitous (but in no sense allpowerful and all-determining) operation of liberal ideology. [52] What is problematic in Honnethʼs recent work, and particularly surprising given the central position accorded to Foucault in the history of critical theory in Critique of Power, is the absence of anything like an adequate theoretical account of the capacity of power and ideology to block the transformative potential of struggles for recognition. Accounting for the operation of power and ideology requires a reformulation of the concept of recognition itself.

Rethinking recognition

The absence of an adequate account of power and ideology is reflected in the way that Honneth deploys the concept of recognition as a normative principle. This is particularly apparent in his delineation of the sphere of law as a harmonious sphere of mutuality with a universalistic dynamic, through which individuals gain recognition as autonomous subjects. What is altogether missing in this account is any consideration of the productive power of recognition – that is, its necessarily performative character, which destabilizes the attempt to portray social discourses and institutions in terms of the ʻneutralʼ confirmation of claims emanating from concrete subjects. The concept of recognition implies a dependence on the other in the sense of both self-confirmation and self-constitution. We depend upon the other for confirmation, in the sense of reflecting who we take ourselves to be, yet who we are is always already co-determined by the performative force of social discourse. Recognition is thus eternally suspended between confirmation and performance, witnessing and constituting. [53] Judith Butler has argued that the constituting dimension of recognition can be captured in terms of Althusserʼs notion of interpellation, outlined in his ʻIdeology and Ideological State Apparatusesʼ. Recognitionʼs performative power can be understood in linguistic terms as the effect of the way it is regulated, allocated and refused as part of ʻlarger social rituals of interpellationʼ, the ʻcall of recognition which solicits existenceʼ, and produces subjects as subjects of a certain kind. [54]

Attention to the performative or constituting dimension of recognition allows us to theorize the operation of ideology and power, which is absent in Honnethʼs account. Honnethʼs neglect of the problems posed by the performative dimension of recognition is thus the corollary of the failure adequately to theorize the ever-present possibility of the struggle for recognition being blocked by power, and its emancipatory potential undermined by dominant social interests. I want to look at two particular dimensions of the operation of power that the notion of performance or constitution allows us to theorize, which suggest the need for an alternative model of critical or oppositional activity within the frame of a struggle for recognition.

The first dimension of power can be gleaned from the fact that oppressed groups, which raise claims to recognition in the process of struggle, cannot simply be said to have been denied access to social recognition, but must rather be understood as groups that have been constituted as excluded by the ʻcall of recognitionʼ that constitutes them as other, as unfit to participate in the social universal. The danger is, then, that interpreting the claims to recognition of excluded groups as identity claims may simply have the effect of constituting a group or class as a victim class, which simultaneously takes away its power positively to rework and transform its injured identity. [55] Honneth fails to see this because he reduces the struggle for recognition to its affirmative aspect and neglects its transformative dimension. Oppositional groups engaged in resistance against their exclusion do not demand merely recognition of who they are, as they have been constituted by exclusionary practices. This turns political claims into claims for the mere affirmation of a private identity. Rather, what is demanded is a transformation of prevailing ideals, in the process of which oppositional identities are themselves transfigured through the overcoming of the derogatory recognitions which constituted them as excluded. It is precisely this transformative demand that is expressed in queer politics, for example, where the solidifying of a gay or lesbian identity is exactly what is avoided in order to destabilize fixed sexual identities, and the ʻhomo–heteroʼ dichotomy which constitutes them. [56] By conceiving legal discourse as the site where subjects are constituted as autonomous, Honnethʼs account seriously underrates the importance of critical agency in transforming disfigured identities produced through derogatory recognitions. The appeal to the law to amend the injuries of subordination and exclusion solidifies the identity of the injured as a victim class in need of protection, and thus blocks the struggle for repositioning and transformation. [57] The struggle for recognition, this argument suggests, would seem to be eternally beset by the ʻperformative contradictionʼ which, Drucilla Cornell argues, marks the political struggle of feminism. [58] What one wants to be recognized as in the struggle – in this case, the recognition of the ʻfeminine within sexual differenceʼ – is precisely what is not (yet) there, what is refused by gender hierarchy. Thus the struggle must embody the paradox of a claim for both affirmation and transformation.

This brings us to the second dimension of the operation of power. The emphasis here is not on the way that power is already at work in constituting identities prior to struggle, but rather on the way that power works within social institutions to subvert, deflect or undermine emancipatory claims raised in social struggle. This can be expressed theoretically in terms of the reciprocal operation of confirmation and constitution in the granting of recognition to previously excluded groups. It is because constitution (the identity that is produced) is never reducible to confirmation (the identity that is demanded) that power and domination are able to get a foothold. To put this more explicitly, the effects of subject constitution are always prone to manipulation by dominant interests, such that existing power structures are effectively untouched, even though a particular demand for recognition appears to have been met. A valuable illustration of how the reciprocal workings of confirmation and constitution in social recognition might undermine emancipatory struggle has recently been given by Mark Neocleous in his account of the incorporation of the English working class by the state in the nineteenth century. Neocleous persuasively argues that when the working class gained legal recognition (i.e. ʻconfirmationʼ) in the nineteenth century as a ʻsubject of rightsʼ, it was simultaneously constituted by the state as an ʻobject of administrationʼ. [59] Consequently, the state was able to develop a ʻlaw-and-administration continuumʼ, by means of which the emancipatory claims raised in working-class struggle were transformed into regulated and administered disputes through which class antagonism could, in effect, be domesticated and controlled.

An example of this was the growing use of industrial tribunals to administer disputes between legal subjects concerning the labour contract. The same process was at work, Neocleous argues, in the recognition of trade unions as the ʻlegal subjectivity of the working classʼ. Legal recognition of trade unions did not merely represent the confirmation of certain freedoms of the working class, such as the freedom to strike, but actually constituted the working class in a particular form congenial to the stability of existing power structures. Hence, a whole series of administrative mechanisms were now put in place which established trade unions in a stabilizing and conciliatory role, and which were implicitly premissed on discouraging the idea that the purpose of unions was to strike. The constitution of trade unions through administrative mechanisms was exemplified by the increasing prominence of procedures of collective bargaining, which set unions in a mediating role between the state and the worker and thereby effectively subsumed class conflict under administration. [60] If it is the case that dominant social interests are potentially able to undermine emancipatory claims at the point of subject constitution in this way, then, I suggest, Honneth would have to give up the rather idealistic portrayal of social institutions, in which they figure merely in the benign role of confirming and institutionalizing normative claims raised by collective actors. It is the performative or constituting dimension of recognition – absent on Honnethʼs account – which allows us to theorize the operations of power and domination within social institutions, and consequently, brings into sharp relief the shortcomings of Honnethʼs idealistic portrayal of social recognition as an identitarian relation between self and social structures.

The operation of power and domination which becomes apparent when social recognition is understood as encompassing both performance and witnessing – constitution and confirmation – suggests the need for a revised conception of critical agency. For if dominant social interests can always potentially deploy forms of subject constitution to defuse emancipatory claims, what is necessary, in the first instance, is to locate a space outside subject constitution which marks the failure of that constitution to be total and all-encompassing – that is, of fully incorporating the residue of ʻnonidentityʼ. I want to suggest that it is the necessary tension between (emancipatory) claim and constitution, or between ʻrecognizerʼ and ʻrecognizedʼ, that is presupposed by the transformative ambitions of critical agency, since what that agency requires is the nonidentity between the subject and the way it is socially constituted. Hence, although social recognition precedes and conditions the formation of the subject, the impossibility of full recognition, of a recognition that is simply re-cognition, implies the instability and incompleteness of subject formation. [61] Further, only by understanding critical agency in this sense does it become possible to overturn the ruse of power implicit in ʻidentity politicsʼ, whereby the very oppressive structure which produces exclusion is then called upon to protect identities thus formed by reifying them. If we read the nature of resistance in terms of Adornoʼs dialectic of nonidentity, the remainder which oppressive forms of social constitution cannot exhaust appears as ʻpossibilityʼ – ʻthe possibility of which their reality has cheated the objectsʼ. The dependence of identity on nonidentity, which marks the failure of totalization, is the ground of resistance, of ʻthe resistance (Widerstand) of the other against identityʼ. [62]

This reading of resistance requires that we radicalize Honnethʼs notion of recognition. On Honnethʼs view, the struggle for recognition is conceived in terms of the development of self-relations, as social institutions are constructively modified such that the subject acquires a positive relation-to-self through the way that it is recognized within them. [63] This reading evidently owes much to Ludwig Siepʼs deployment of the concept of recognition, in which political and social institutions function as conditions for the formation of self-consciousness. [64] It is their role in a formative process through the development of patterns of recognition that, according to Siep, provides a standard of critical judgement vis-à-vis social institutions. Although this account has undoubtedly proved invaluable in rejuvenating Hegelʼs concept of recognition as a critical concept in social philosophy, it risks underestimating the subversive potential of recognition. The Honneth–Siep account stresses the role of recognition in the confirmation of identity, and neglects that this can only occur through the splitting of identity through the priority of relation. That is to say, recognition is not merely a mode of individual self-confirmation, but also a mode of community formation which at the same time decentres, and thus destabilizes that community. Recognition therefore only secures identity by rendering it dependent on, in community with, what it is not, on what is nonidentical with it. This reading allows us to capture the transformative element of a claim to recognition, which renders it irreducible to self-confirmation. According to García Düttmanʼs account, the transformative element within the demand for recognition, which goes beyond a claim to inclusion, becomes apparent as a breach (Unterbrechung) of a dominant identity, which destabilizes that identity by rendering it relational, thereby undermining its capacity to assimilate by inclusion. [65] I want to suggest that we read this breach in Adornoʼs terms, as the ʻshock of the openʼ, the feeling of ʻdizzinessʼ which occurs when identity is confronted with what it tries to suppress. Within the ʻcoveredʼ, and the ʻnever-changingʼ, Adorno claims, that shock will appear as the ʻnegativeʼ. It is ʻuntruth only for the untrueʼ. The telos of philosophy itself, Adorno tells us, is to turn thinking towards ʻthe open and uncoveredʼ, which destabilizes the totalizing claims of identity. [66]

The problems in Honnethʼs account are perhaps symptomatic of the tendencies towards idealization of the Kantian turn in critical theory, which have led to a turning away from the task of demonstrating the ʻnegativity of the wholeʼ, which, of course, is how Adorno sought to keep the critical project alive. The danger, when critical theory becomes idealizing construction, as Honnethʼs work shows, is that the critical impulse becomes diluted through assimilation to existing norms and ideals. In spite of these difficulties, however, it is clear that Honnethʼs efforts both to render critical theory more substantive and to ground it more deeply in the concrete pathologies of the lifeworld are a bold step in the right direction, away from the stultifying formalism of Habermasʼs communication theory. What is now required is a more constructive engagement with ʻfirst-generationʼ theorists. The degree of distance from Habermas, which Honnethʼs work has now established, makes this possible.


I am grateful to Axel Honneth for the opportunity to discuss these issues on numerous occasions, and to the reviewers of Radical Philosophy for their comments and criticisms.

1. ^ This is clearly stated in Horkheimerʼs preface to the republished collection of his essays from the Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung, in Critical Theory, trans. M.J.

OʼConnell et al., Continuum, New York, 1972, especially p. 5; as well as the 1969 preface, co-signed by Adorno, to the republished edition of Dialectic of Enlightenment, trans. J. Cumming, Verso, London, 1979, p. ix.

2. ^ ʻCommunication and Reconciliationʼ, Telos 39, 1979, p. 50. Honneth repeats this charge in Critique of Power: Reflective Stages in a Critical Social Theory, MIT Press,

Cambridge MA, 1990, p. 68.

3. ^ Ibid., p. 58.

4. ^ Ibid., pp. 47, 56.

5. ^ This term was used by Horkheimer in ʻTraditional and Critical Theoryʼ, but it originates in Thesis One of Marxʼs ʻTheses on Feuerbachʼ, in Die Frühschriften, Alfred Kröner Verlag, Stuttgart, 1953, p. 339.

6. ^ Critique of Power, p. 29.

7. ^ Ibid., p. 27. This idea of culture is particularly prominent in Horkheimerʼs essay ʻAuthority and the Familyʼ, in Critical Theory, pp. 47–128.

8. ^ ʻThe Social Dynamics of Disrespect: On the Location of Critical Theory Todayʼ, Constellations 1, 1994, p. 257.

9. ^ Critical Theory, p. 237.

10. ^ ʻThe Social Dynamics of Disrespectʼ, p. 259.

11. ^ Béla Kerékgyártó, ʻAuf dem Weg zu einem formalen Konzept der Sittlichkeit? Die Reinterpretation der Hegelschen Anerkennungstheorie bei Axel Honnethʼ, HegelJahrbuch, 1996, p. 203. In Critique of Power, Honneth develops this idea through a comparison between Habermas and Foucault.

12. ^ ʻDiskursethik und implizites Gerechtigkeitskonzeptʼ, in Moralität und Sittlichkeit, edited by W. Kühlmann,

Suhrkamp, Frankfurt am Main, 1986, pp. 189, 187.

13. ^ This condition is not reducible to what Habermas calls ʻpersonalityʼ, since, according to Honneth, it requires that social structures are arranged in such a way that individuals possess the necessary degree of self-respect to be able to engage in dialogue as free and equal partners.

14. ^ ʻDiskursethik und implizites Gerechtigkeitskonzeptʼ, p. 191.

15. ^ This has become a familiar refrain in Habermas criticism. See, in particular, Stanley Aronowitz, The Crisis in Historical Materialism, University of Minnesota Press,

Minneapolis, 1981, pp. 58–68; Hans-Ernst Schiller, ʻHabermas und die Kritische Theorieʼ, in G. Bolte, ed., Unkritische Theorie: Gegen Habermas, zu Klampen,

Lüneburg, 1989; Ben Agger, The Discourse of Domination, Northwestern University Press, Evanston IL, 1992, ch. 10.

16. ^ Reprinted in Jürgen Habermas, Theory and Practice, trans. J. Viertel, Beacon Press, Boston MA, 1973.

17. ^ ʻWork and Instrumental Actionʼ, trans. M.G. Ash, New German Critique 26, 1982, pp. 52–3.

18. ^ E.P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class, Vintage, New York, 1966; Barrington Moore, Injustice: The Social Bases of Obedience and Revolt, M.E.

Sharpe, White Plains NY, 1978. In the essay in question, however, Honneth draws more directly on the findings of industrial sociology.

19. ^ ʻThe Social Dynamics of Disrespectʼ, p. 266. In effect, this might be understood as a ʻmiddle wayʼ between Marcuseʼs discernment of the liberatory potential of work through its erotization, and Habermasʼs exclusion of work from the sphere of emancipatory praxis altogether. Although agreeing with Habermas that Marcuseʼs idea of the transformation of work into ʻplayʼ is untenable, Honneth wants work to be open to normative critique. On Marcuseʼs view of work, see Uri Zilbersheid, Die Marxsche Idee der Aufhebung der Arbeit und ihre Rezeption bei Fromm und Marcuse, P. Lang, Frankfurt am Main, 1986. See also Ben Agger, The Discourse of Domination, chs 10 and 11.

20. ^ ʻMoral Consciousness and Class Dominationʼ, in Axel Honneth, The Fragmented World of the Social, State University of New York Press, Albany NY, 1995, pp. 205–19.

21. ^ ʻThe Social Dynamics of Disrespectʼ, p. 261.

22. ^ See Jürgen Habermas, Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action, trans. Lenhardt and Nicholsen, MIT Press, Cambridge MA, 1990, p. 207. This technocratic solution has been justly criticized by Honneth. See his ʻThe Other of Justice: Habermas and the Ethical Challenge of Postmodernismʼ, trans. J. Farrell, in The Cambridge Companion to Habermas, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1995, p. 305.

23. ^ Ludwig Siep, ʻThe Struggle for Recognition: Hegelʼs Dispute with Hobbes in the Jena Writingsʼ, trans. C.

Dudas, in John OʼNeill, ed., Hegelʼs Dialectic of Desire and Recognition, State University of New York Press,

Albany NY, 1996. This essay was originally published in 1974.

24. ^ Struggle for Recognition, trans. J. Anderson, Polity Press, Cambridge, 1995, pp. 161, 147–9.

25. ^ See the discussion in J. Alexander and M. Pia Lara, ʻHonnethʼs New Critical Theory of Recognitionʼ, New Left Review 220, 1996, pp. 126–36.

26. ^ Struggle for Recognition, p. 166. The qualifier ʻpossiblyʼ is here significant. As we shall see, Honneth has yet to formulate a coherent account of the relation between an interests model of conflict and a ʻrecognition-theoreticʼ model. See Peter Osborne, ʻA Paradigm too Far?ʼ, RP 80, pp. 34-7.

27. ^ Ibid., p. 163.

28. ^ Ibid., pp. 166–7, 163.

29. ^ Ibid., pp. 171–8.

30. ^ Ibid., p. 175.

31. ^ A. Honneth, ed., Pathologien des Sozialen: Die Aufgaben der Sozialphilosophie, Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 1994, pp. 49–51.

32. ^ Ibid., pp. 28ff.

33. ^ ʻThe Social Dynamics of Disrespectʼ, p. 266.

34. ^ In this regard, see the debate between Honneth and Critchley in Radical Philosophy 89, May-June 1998, pp. 27–39.

35. ^ See Critique of Power, ch.

3. ^ It is evident that the capacity of ideology to reach immediately into the instinctual structure of individuals is also presupposed in Marcuseʼs One-Dimensional Man, Beacon Press, Boston MA, 1964. Hence, ʻfalse needsʼ are described as a form of ʻintrojectionʼ producing the ʻimmediate identificationʼ of the individual with society (p. 10).

36. ^ See Learning to Labour, Saxon House, Westmead, 1977, ch.

8. ^ In his Common Culture (Westview Press, Boulder CO, 1990), Paul Willis outlines the process of what he calls ʻsymbolic workʼ, which is based on the presumption that the cultural commodities supplied by the commercial culture industry are not consumed passively by duped individuals, but are used as catalysts for an active process of symbolic creativity. See especially, Common Culture, pp. [17] ff. If Willis is right, then clearly Adornoʼs account of how the culture industry enforces a false integration is insufficient as it stands.

37. ^ Paul Willisʼs claim was that the anti-school culture of working-class boys itself pushes them towards compliance with structures of domination through its valorizing of patriarchy and its devaluing of mental labour as ʻfeminineʼ. Angela McRobbie argued that the same complicity of culture with social control can be seen in the construction of an ʻideology of romanceʼ among working-class girls, which valorizes marriage, family life and beauty. See her ʻWorking Class Girls and the Culture of Femininityʼ, in Women Studies Group, ed., Women Take Issue, Hutchinson, London, 1978.

38. ^ In his In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1995, p. 8.

39. ^ Bourgoisʼs study traces the contours of a form of ʻstreetdefined dignityʼ developed in conditions of immense structural oppression tinged with racism among young Puerto Ricans in East Harlem. The same logic, whereby social exclusion plus racism produces a cultural form centred upon an outright rejection of dominant, white middle-class norms is analysed in Herman Tertiltʼs study of a young Turkish gang in Frankfurt am Main, Germany (Turkish Power Boys, Suhrkamp, Frankfurt am Main, 1996). These studies demonstrate convincingly how cultural forms can block the move from oppression to resistance by redefining self-respect through a rejection tout court of the norms of the wider society and its dominant groups.

40. ^ ʻThe Social Dynamics of Disrespectʼ, p. 269.

41. ^ Wendy Brown, States of Injury: Power and Freedom in Late Modernity, Princeton University Press, Princeton NJ, 1995, p. 59.

42. ^ See Judith Butlerʼs essay ʻMerely Culturalʼ, in New Left Review 227, 1998, pp. 33–44.

43. ^ Struggle for Recognition, p. 164; also, p. 162: ʻThe forms of recognition associated with rights and social esteem … represent a moral context for societal conflict, if only because they rely on socially generalized criteria in order to functionʼ (my emphasis).

44. ^ This point can also be said to apply to the practice of ʻconsciousness-raisingʼ in early Second Wave feminism, which would otherwise seem to be a form of oppositional group formation to which Honnethʼs model of collective resistance corresponds quite closely. Consciousness-raising deliberately set out to ignore, or deny, the dominant conceptions of equality and impartial respect, developing a standpoint of partiality centred on womenʼs experience. Thus the important task was to break free from the ideological neutrality of liberal personhood, which disguised a masculine world-view. See Jeffrey Gauthier, Hegel and Feminist Social Criticism, SUNY Press, Albany NY, 1997, ch. 4.

45. ^ Struggle for Recognition, p. 163.

46. ^ Lois Weis stresses the tendency to stick with individualistic/private solutions rather than collective action and collective struggle in her account of the emerging feminist identity of working-class girls. The girls in Weisʼs study, although developing an identity which seemingly points towards the need for collective resistance, ʻare not conscious of their shared political sexual class identity even though the glimmerings of such consciousness are thereʼ. Weis stresses that it is only through seeing their problems as shared and as needing collective action that these girls could truly press for substantive change. See Lois Weis, Working Class Without Work: High School Students in a De-industrializing Economy, Routledge,

New York, 1990, p. 206.

47. ^ Jay MacLeod, in his study of two groups of workingclass youths in the USA, provides an excellent account of how the ʻachievement ideologyʼ and the rhetoric of equality of opportunity effectively block collective insight into the constraining structural forces bearing upon working-class youths as a group and produces instead a feeling of personal responsibility. Arguing against Paul Willisʼs optimism about the possibility of ʻpenetrationsʼ of liberal ideology, MacLeod suggests: ʻinsightful opinions are of little use in isolation; there needs to be an ideological perspective and a cultural context in which their insights can be applied that leads to positive and potentially transformative rituals, symbols, territories and political strategiesʼ (Ainʼt No Makinʼ It: Aspirations and Attainment in a Low Income Neighbourhood, Westview Press, Boulder CO, 1995, p. 249).

48. ^ Struggle for Recognition, p. 178.

49. ^ Other theorists working within this framework are Iris Marion Young, Justice and the Politics of Difference, Princeton University Press, Princeton NJ, 1990; and Charles Taylor, Multiculturalism and the ʻPolitics of Recognitionʼ, Princeton University Press, Princeton NJ, 1992.

50. ^ See Wendy Brownʼs insightful critique of identity politics in States of Injury, chs 2 and 3.

51. ^ Theodor W. Adorno, ʻSocietyʼ, trans. F. Jameson, in S. Bronner and D. Kellner, eds, Critical Theory and Society, Routledge, London, 1989, pp. 271, 274.

52. ^ My argument here was prompted by the suggestions of Peter Dews on an earlier draft of this paper.

53. ^ Alexander García Düttman, Zwischen den Kulturen, Suhrkamp, Frankfurt am Main, 1997, p. 10. See also his ʻThe Culture of Polemic: Misrecognizing Recognitionʼ, Radical Philosophy 81, January–February 1997, pp. 27–34.

54. ^ See Judith Butler, Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative, Routledge, London and New York, 1997, pp. 24–8. Butler is, however, rightly critical of the totalizing implications of Althusserʼs reading of interpellation.

55. ^ That Honneth does read claims to recognition as identity claims is strongly suggested by the explicit reference to ʻidentity claimsʼ as constitutve of Hegelʼs account of social struggle, in Struggle for Recognition, p. 23.

56. ^ See Nancy Fraserʼs distinction between ʻaffirmativeʼ and ʻtransformativeʼ recognition in her Justice Interruptus, Routledge, London and New York, 1997, pp. 23ff. See also García Düttman, Zwischen den Kulturen, pp. 107–24.

57. ^ See Brown, States of Injury, p. 27.

58. ^ See her Transformations: Recollective Imagination and Sexual Difference, Routledge, London and New York, 1993, p. 142.

59. ^ Administering Civil Society: Towards a Theory of State Power, Macmillan and St. Martins Press, London and New York, 1996, pp. 69, 111, 163–4. Central to Neocleousʼs account is a critique of the idea that the working class was already fully formed before the state ʻactedʼ upon it. Thus the very idea of the ʻmakingʼ of the English working class necessitates an account of its constitution, throught its subsumption by power and dominant social interests (ibid., pp. 105–7).

60. ^ Ibid., pp. 69, 140ff.

61. ^ See Judith Butler, Bodies that Matter, Routledge, London and New York, 1993, pp. 225–6.

62. ^ Negative Dialectics, trans. E.B. Ashton, Continuum,

New York, 1973, pp. 52, 160–61 (translation altered).

63. ^ See, for example, the recent essay ʻAnerkennung und moralische Verpflichtungʼ, in Zeitschrift für philosophische Forschung 51, 1997, p. 38.

64. ^ See his ʻRecht und Anerkennungʼ, in Selbstbehauptung und Anerkennung, edited by H. Girndt, Academia Verlag, Sankt Augustin, 1990, especially pp. 172ff.

65. ^ See his Zwischen den Kulturen, pp. 117–18.

66. ^ Negative Dialectics, pp. 33, 20 (translation altered).