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Habermas and Politics

A Critical Introduction

Matheson Russell

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A critical introduction to Jürgen Habermas’ political thought and his theory of power

  • Combines sociological and philosophical analysis of Habermas’ work to make sense of his distinctive approach to political theory
  • Situates Habermas’s political theory in relation to Continental theorists – including Benjamin, Schmitt, Foucault, Lefort and Rancière – and current schools of Anglo-American political philosophy – such as anarchism, liberalism and republicanism
  • Surveys of the critical literature at the end of each chapter to provide suggestions for further reading

Jürgen Habermas has come to be viewed as the unofficial philosopher laureate of the European Union. But why have his contributions to contemporary political theory commanded such attention? This book brings to life the ideas of a unique thinker, an heir to the Enlightenment legacy, a champion of reason and democracy, a social theorist of unusual sophistication and an astute commentator on contemporary politics.

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  1. The Liberating Power of Reason
  2. Critical Perspectives: Power, Ideology and Communicative Reason
  3. The Origins and Transformations of Political Power
  4. Critical Perspectives: Power and Domination in Contemporary Society
  5. Deliberative Democracy
  6. Critical Perspectives: Power, Conflict and Deliberative Politics



About the Author

Matheson Russell is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Auckland. He is the author of Husserl: A Guide for the Perplexed (Continuum, 2006) and editor of On Rowan Williams: Critical Essays (Cascade Books, 2008).


Russell has written a comprehensive and accessible book about Habermas, who remains a central author in many disciplines. The simple yet sophisticated structure enables the author to cover the key aspects of Habermas’ political thought without getting lost in details and side-issues, and also allows him to emphasise the deep theoretical consistency and the complexity of Habermas’ political thinking.

- Jean-Philippe Deranty, Macquarie University

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