From 1968 to 1951: How Habermas Transformed Marx into Parsons

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This paper addresses Habermas's critique of the sociological theory of Talcott Parsons. It treats Habermas as exemplary for a form of critique that sought to utilise Marxian themes in order to overcome what have been widely seen as Parsons' problems in handling issues of conflict and social change. The paper argues that these problems derive from the characteristics of general theory conducted within an action frame of reference. The ambition for this type of theory is something that Habermas shares with Parsons and the paper demonstrates how the elaboration of his own theory comes to converge with that of Parsons and reproduces its problematic features. In conclusion, it is suggested that these problems can only be overcome by rejecting general theory as a mode of sociological theorising.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)923-942
Number of pages20
JournalSociologicky casopis
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2008


  • Jurgen Habermas, system integration, Talcott Parsons, social integration, social action, sociological theory - general