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Reconnaissance, identité et intégration sociale

 | 
Christian Lazzeri
, 
Soraya Nour

Le concept de reconnaissance

Recognition, System Justification and Reconstructive Critique

Robin Celikates

Texte intégral

1When we think about the relations of recognition that structure a social order, exclusion is usually regarded as the problem and inclusion as the solution. In the following I will argue that in some cases inclusion—or rather the specific mode of inclusion—may very well constitute the problem. This is the case when we are dealing with ideological forms of recognition. System Justification Theory—a relatively novel approach in social and political psychology—offers an analysis of those cases in which subjects identify with and recognize as legitimate a social order even if this manifestly contradicts their individual and collective interests. I will further argue that these are the cases on which critical theory should focus, and that in dealing with such cases it has to proceed in a reconstructive manner, in the sense of a historically concrete rather than a formal-pragmatic analysis, in order to produce what Raymond Geuss calls reflective unacceptability.

2I will present my arguments in three steps that take up the three elements of my title: 1) I am going to sketch an alternative description of the “problem of recognition”, 2) I will then give a quick overview of System Justification Theory which seems to me to be one theoretically and empirically promising way of analyzing this problem, 3) in the last section I am going to outline a conception of reconstructive critique that seeks to address such cases.

A pathology of excessive recognition?

3From one perspective the problem of recognition seems to be that there is not enough of it, that groups and individuals are denied the recognition they deserve, that they are excluded and should be included. On this view, individuals and groups recognize each other through the mediation of political and social institutions, and they can fail to recognize each other appropriately. Cases of misrecognition can then be remedied by a seemingly simple recipe: the inclusion of certain individuals and groups in the existing institutionalized patterns of recognition should be more extensive (in the sense of including those that have until now been unjustifiably excluded) and more intensive (in the sense of recognizing qualities and capacities that have hitherto not been given the concern they deserve).

  • 1 See, for example, Bourdieu Pierre,“Sur le pouvoir symbolique”, in Annales ESC, Vol. 32, Nº 3, juin (...)
  • 2 Of course, one could now argue that this is not what Honneth calls recognition – but although ther (...)

4From another perspective, however, the problem seems to be the exact opposite: there is too much recognition, in the sense that the social and political institutions that mediate interpersonal recognition get more recognition than they actually deserve. On this view, put forward for example by Pierre Bourdieu,1 social and political institutions are primarily seen as the objects of recognition by the members of a society who credit the social order they live in with a seemingly inevitable authority in which recognition and misrecognition are not easy to disentangle.2

5These two perspectives confront critical theory with different tasks: from the first perspective the task seems to be to expose the denial of recognition, e.g. cases in which the dignity or identity of an individual or an entire group is not recognized or at least not sufficiently recognized. The aim—both of the pertinent social movement and of the critical theorist—is to bring about a more inclusive order of recognition. Their struggle, therefore, is a struggle for inclusion. From the second perspective, however, the task is, for obvious reasons, quite different: the primary role of critical theory seems to be to disclose the socially instituted character of society, to expose the kind of recognition the members of a social order attribute to it as—essentially—a kind of misrecognition (e.g. as natural and unchangeable or as being in everybody’s interest). The struggle, therefore, is a struggle for cognitive and social transformation. As a social struggle it already includes and presupposes a struggle for a more self-reflective attitude. Perhaps an example can serve to illustrate this distinction. Within the gay and lesbian rights movement there is a split between those who fight for recognition in the sense of inclusion in the already existing order (of marriage and adoption laws, for example) and those who fight for a transformation of that order (and therefore against a certain ideology of the family and its legal manifestations). Although the distinction between inclusion and transformation does of course admit of degrees, it seems to make an important theoretical and political difference whether the focus is primarily on a lack or an excess of recognition, and accordingly on inclusion or on transformation.

  • 3 See Ricœur Paul, Idéologie et l’utopie, Paris, Éditions du Seuil, “La couleur des idées”, 1997, p. (...)
  • 4 Honneth Axel, “Recognition as Ideology”, in Recognition and Power. Axel Honneth and the Tradition (...)
  • 5 Ibid., p. 325.

6Since in recent years critical theory, especially the theory of recognition developed by Axel Honneth and others, has focused on the first case, i.e. on structural recognition deficits and their remedies, it seems necessary to emphasize the second problem again, i.e. the structural excess or surplus3 of recognition—and I say “again” because clearly it has traditionally been at the centre of Marxism’s and critical theory’s critique of ideology. Another way to put the question would therefore be: has the problem of ideology received enough attention in the recent debate about recognition? This does not seem to be the case, or at least not quite. Of course, Axel Honneth has recently emphasized that there are ideological forms of recognition that secure social domination, and that these must be distinguished from those that are ethically required and justified. However, as he elaborates in his essay “Recognition as Ideology”,4 these ideological forms of recognition are conceptualized entirely from the first of the two perspectives I distinguished: recognition is ideological if and insofar as there is a discrepancy between the evaluative promise of recognition and its material fulfillment in individual or institutional practices, i.e. if and insofar as there is a lack of ‘real’recognition. As Honneth puts it: “this approach owes its entire critical impulse to its point of departure in social phenomena of lacking or insufficient recognition”.5

  • 6 Another problem with this approach is that it seems to imply the utopia of a social condition in w (...)
  • 7 Deranty Jean-Philippe et Renault Emmanuel, “Politicizing Honneth’s Ethics of Recognition”, in Thes (...)
  • 8 This one-sidedness is therefore different from the one criticized by those for whom focusing on “h (...)

7Honneth’s analysis thus remains within the limits of the first perspective, which focuses on the lack of recognition, on cases where there is no or not enough “true” recognition, and criticizes this lack in the name of a more inclusive recognition.6 Now, I do not wish to argue that the second problem—the excess of recognition—is more important or urgent than the first one—the lack or deficit of recognition. However, I am convinced that the second problem deserves more attention than it has received in the recent debates about recognition. A related critique of a certain one-sidedness in Honneth’s account has recently been elaborated by Emmanuel Renault and Jean-Philippe Deranty who argue that Honneth’s theory is not sufficiently political since it conceives of recognition in a narrowly intersubjectivist way and fails to account for the crucial role of institutions by neglecting that the demand for recognition always arises and is negotiated within an institutional framework.7 The one-sidedness that I have in mind is similarly based on Honneth’s tendency to conceptualize the recognitive relations as “person-person” or “institution-person” relations in which persons recognize (or fail to recognize) other persons and institutions recognize (or fail to recognize) persons.8 The “bottom-up” recognition of social and political institutions by the subjects is almost entirely absent from this picture, which is strange given its importance for the stability of the institutionalized relations of power and recognition and thus for the stability of the social order as such.

8After this very brief sketch of two different perspectives on problematic forms of recognition I would now like to outline a theoretical and empirical account of the second perspective that builds on a recent psychological research program called “System Justification Theory”.

System justification theory

  • 9 Of course, “the system” – the social and political order – consists of many different layers and i (...)

9A group of social and political psychologists led by John Jost has developed a theoretical framework under the title “System Justification Theory” which has inspired a range of very interesting empirical studies. The theory primarily addresses two questions: 1) How and why do people provide cognitive and ideological support for the social and political status quo (“the system”9), even when their support appears to conflict with their personal and group interests? 2) What are the social and psychological consequences of supporting the status quo, especially for members of disadvantaged groups?

  • 10 Jost John T. et Banaji Mahzarin R., “The Role of Stereotyping in System-Justification and the Prod (...)
  • 11 Jost John T., Banaji Mahzarin R. et Nosek BrianA.,“A Decade of System Justification Theory. Accumu (...)
  • 12 In this respect there are obviously important analogies to ‘just-world theory’; for the classic st (...)
  • 13 Jost, Banaji and Nosek,“A Decade of System Justification Theory”, op. cit., p. 909.
  • 14 Jost John T. et Hunyady Orsolya,“The Psychology of System Justification and the Palliative Functio (...)

10With regard to the first question the authors propose to study a psychological phenomenon which they call “system justification” and define as “the psychological process by which existing social arrangements are legitimized, even at the expense of personal and group interest”.10 In other words, they are concerned with what I have above called a pathology of excessive recognition. There is a general psychological tendency “to defend and justify the status quo and to bolster the legitimacy of the existing social order”,11 to recognize the social order—especially the distribution of resources, power and social roles—as good, fair and desirable and/or as natural or even inevitable just because it exists.12 Some what surprisingly, empirical evidence even shows that the motive of system justification is especially strong among disadvantaged groups because in the (supposed) absence of the chance to improve their situation they tend to rationalize their own condition, to blame themselves, to take over positive and negative stereotypes from dominant groups and to accept pseudo-explanations of their own powerlessness. As the authors note, “those who suffer the most from the system are also those who have the most to explain, justify, and rationalize”.13 Not only do these ideological mechanisms stabilize the status quo, they also serve “a palliative function in that they reduce anxiety, guilt, dissonance, discomfort, and uncertainty for those who are advantaged and disadvantaged”.14

  • 15 Napier Jaime L., Mandisodza Anesu N., Andersen Susan M. et Jost John T., “System Justification in (...)
  • 16 See Jost John T., Fitzsimons Gráinne et Kay Aaron C., “The Ideological Animal. A System Justificat (...)

11One particularly striking example of this phenomenon is provided by what happened in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the complete failure of government agencies to help the largely poor and black citizens of New Orleans. It is not too surprising that “in response to the clear failure of local and national government (i.e., ‘the system’) many political elites, journalists, and ordinary citizens spontaneously developed victim-blaming attributions that deflected blame away from the system”.15 However, the reactions of many victims also had the tendency to justify the system, showing signs of an internalized sense of inequality and inferiority such as self-blaming, individualizing attributions of responsibility, biased memory (e.g. of violent acts supposedly perpetrated by the evacuees themselves that are then used to excuse the chaotic nature of the rescue effort) and depressed entitlement (e.g. the belief that the by far greater rescue effort in richer neighborhoods is not unfair). It is important to note that those affected by these psychological mechanisms are not their passive victims but are capable of developing different attitudes and changing their behavioral patterns. This, however, will happen only if they come to develop a deeper understanding of the relationship between the social and political context and their own reactions to it—and this is exactly what System Justification Theory tries to do, claiming to revive the Marxist critique of ideology on more empirical grounds.16

12On the basis of this brief characterization it should already be obvious why System Justification Theory should be of interest from the perspective of critical theory: it provides a reformulation of the problem of ideology and false consciousness—of the pathology of excessive recognition—on the basis of empirical psychology without falling into some of the traps of the orthodox critique of ideology (e.g. its totalizing and “necessitarian” tendencies). Most importantly, and this relates to the second question the theory seeks to answer, although system justification takes place on an implicit, non-conscious level of awareness, this ain’t necessarily so—it can be brought to the subjects’attention and in most cases this will have practical consequences, at least at the level of the agents’self-understanding (which, however, is a precondition for further social change).

  • 17 Jost, Banaji et Nosek, “A Decade of System Justification Theory”, op. cit., p. 908.
  • 18 The necessity for a third model of critique is also emphasized by Adorno; see Adorno Theodor W., “ (...)

13It is true, “people have psychological attachments to the status quo that supersede considerations of self-interest”17—however, these attachments and the accompanying powerful psychological tendencies of identification with the status quo come at a certain price, to be paid by the disadvantaged individuals themselves in the form of a decrease in self-esteem and an increase in depression, neuroticism and other pathologies, such as a depressed sense of entitlement that can in turn lead to significant material disadvantages. The answer that System Justification Theory gives to the second question about the costs and consequences of these psychological phenomena makes it plausible to see it as a case of what I will call reconstructive critique: An awareness of the price they pay and the mechanisms that have led them to do so will not leave the agents indifferent but initiate a process of self-reflection that will ultimately have practical consequences (or so the critical theorist hopes, or has to hope if her project is to retain any sense). If one can show that and how these mechanisms operate in a concrete case, this is likely to initiate a process of self-reflection on the part of the agents themselves, which is a necessary step in the transformation both of themselves and of the social order they live in. In the next section I will sketch an understanding of critical theory that seeks to address the same kinds of problems that System Justification Theory focuses on. Since it follows neither an internal nor an external model of critique, I will call it reconstructive critique.18

Reconstructive critique

  • 19 Habermas Jürgen, Knowledge and Human Interests, Boston, Beacon Press, 1972, p. 230. The way in whi (...)
  • 20 Ibid., p. 247-248 (the last emphasis is mine).

14As is well known, Habermas uses the term “reconstruction” in Knowledge and Human Interests (1968) in order to characterize the method of psycho-analysis: “The intellectual work is shared by physician and patient in the following way: The former reconstructs what has been forgotten from the faulty texts of the latter, from his dreams, associations, and repetitions, while the latter, animated by the constructions suggested by the physician as hypotheses, remembers. The interpreting analyst’s work of construction accords considerably with the method of reconstruction used by the archaeologist with regard to the sites of archaeological finds. [...] In contrast to the archaeologist, however,] only the patient’s recollection decides the accuracy of the construction. If it applies, then it must also ‘restore’to the patient a portion of lost life history: that is it must be able to elicit a self-reflection.”19 And at a later point Habermas elaborates: “As long as the theory derives its meaning in relation to the reconstruction of a lost fragment of life history and, therefore, to self-reflection, its application is necessarily practical. It effects the reorganization of the action-orienting self-understanding of socialized individuals, which is structured in ordinary language. In this role, however, psychoanalysis can never be replaced by technologies derived from other theories of the empirical sciences in the rigorous sense. In contrast, the experience of reflection induced by enlightenment is precisely the act through which the subject frees itself from a state in which it had become an object. This specific activity must be accomplished by the subject itself.”20 Famously, Habermas then proceeds to argue that this methodological structure of psychoanalysis provides a model for understanding critical social theory—and this is the reason for speaking of reconstructive critique.

  • 21 Ibid., p. 377.

15However, Habermas himself did not remain convinced by his own analysis for very long; already in his postscript to Knowledge and Human Interests from 1973 he revokes his original conception because of an apparent confusion concerning the notion of self-reflection. There he introduces a distinction between reconstruction and critique: “on the one hand, it [sc. self-reflection] denotes the reflexion upon the conditions of potential abilities of a knowing, speaking and acting subject as such; on the other hand, it denotes the reflexion upon unconsciously produced constraints to which a determinate subject […] succumbs in its process of self-formation”.21 In his subsequent work Habermas then goes on to develop a universal or formal pragmatics that elaborates the first project (what he now calls reconstruction) and thereby tries to provide (what he sees as) a more robust normative basis for critical theory.

16What is the difference between these two conceptions of reconstruction? We can reach a first answer if we look at what is reconstructed and how it is reconstructed. Let us take a look at the what first. On the first understanding reconstruction aims at concrete pathologies and their genesis, whereas on the second it aims at those universal rules and competences that are constitutive of language use and social interaction as such. From this it seems clear that the object of reconstruction is historically concrete in the first case (the early Habermas) and abstract and more ahistorical in the second (the later Habermas). In other words, in the one case the reconstructed features of practices and self-understandings are contingent to these practices and self-understandings, whereas in the other case they are constitutive of them.

17Before I come to the advantages of the first perspective let me say a few words about the how of reconstruction. According to the earlier conception, reconstruction proceeds in analogy to psychoanalysis, i.e. it combines theoretical knowledge and a dialogical interaction with the addressee of critique and seeks to produce what Raymond Geuss calls “reflective unacceptability”. Here it is important to remember that reconstruction entails both the element of recovery and that of construction. On the later understanding it proceeds in analogy to Chomsky’s, Piaget’s and Kohlberg’s ideal-typical reconstruction of linguistic competences and rules and of cognitive development. This kind of reconstruction aims at a quasi-transcendental structure that contains the conditions of possibility of communicative interaction and thus of social relations as such. Whereas reconstruction is an essentially dialogical undertaking on the first understanding, it can be “monological” on the second.

  • 22 Ibid., p. 378.
  • 23 For an example of such an elaboration see Tully James, “To Think and Act Differently. Foucault’s F (...)

18From my perspective, the first understanding of reconstruction is more pertinent to the program of critical theory, roughly for the following reasons. The problem with the second, formal-pragmatic understanding seems to be that the abstract reconstruction of the constitutive rules and competences of language-use and the critique of concrete forms of distorted relations of communication actually fall apart. It is just very unclear to what extent the reconstruction of a structure that is in fact unavoidable (“unhintergehbar”) can be critical at all. Habermas himself admits that reconstruction, understood in this sense, does not aim at emancipation or transformation, indeed, its work is accomplished “without involving practical consequences”.22 Of course, this very general criticism stands in need of further elaboration;23 here I just present it as a rough background for the claim that the first understanding is actually the more promising one.

19The early Habermas’s analogy between psychoanalysis and critical theory has been discarded too quickly. However, it seems important to stress that the analogy does not concern the level of substantial theoretical assumptions, but only certain shared methodological features. It is obvious that there are many important differences between psychoanalysis and critical theory; for example, there is no couch, no patient and no analyst in the literal (and maybe even the metaphorical) sense in the case of social critique. The methodological analogy I have in mind is situated at two levels: at the level of the aim and at that of the process. It will turn out, however, that the aims of both psycho-analysis and critical theory place certain restrictions on the available means, and that therefore this distinction is to be taken cum grano salis.

20Like the psychoanalyst’s, the critical theorist’s reconstruction ultimately has a two-fold aim: to trigger a process of self-reflection and to enable the subject to perform this self-reflection by herself. Both thus aim at empowerment and autonomy, broadly understood. Of course, the process of self-reflection should not be confused with the process of transformation itself.

  • 24 This is one way of understanding Zygmunt Bauman’s distinction between the legislative and the inte (...)

21However, firstly, self-reflection is a necessary step towards transformation and, secondly, it is hardly the critical theorist’s job to pre-empt the process of individual and collective self-reflection by providing substantial goals and a road map for transformation. Again, this is very similar to psycho-analysis where the analyst’s task is to enable the subject to embark on the search for—alternative—answers, not to provide the answers themselves.24

  • 25 Lear Jonathan, Therapeutic Action, New York, Other Press, 2003, p. 97-98.

22This second remark already indicates the sense in which the aim has an effect on the process that is supposed to achieve it. The methodological structure of both psychoanalysis and critical theory implies that ultimately the analyst and the theorist aim at making themselves superfluous by enabling the subjects to fully assume the role that they are always already playing to some degree, namely that of the analyst and the critic. “[T]he analytic process is thought to consist, at least partially, in a process by which the analysand comes to internalize the capacity for analysis. Analysis is not supposed to be over once analyst and analysand cease meeting; rather, the analysand is supposed to be in a position where she can carry on the activity of analysis largely on her own.”25 I propose that critical theory as reconstructive critique has, or should have, a similar structure.

  • 26 Habermas Jürgen, “Some Difficulties in the Attempt to Link Theory and Praxis”, in Theory and Pract (...)
  • 27 In contrast to Michael Walzer, therefore, a ‘good eye’ or rather a ‘good ear’ is not enough; the a (...)

23The asymmetry that will at certain points exist between the critics and the addressees presupposes an already existing symmetry (otherwise there would be no basis for a critical dialogue), aims at a deeper form of symmetry and will therefore only be temporal and secondary: “the vindicating superiority of those who do the enlightening over those who are to be enlightened is theoretically unavoidable, but at the same time it is fictive and requires self-correction: in a process of enlightenment there can only be participants.”26 In this process, however, theory plays a peculiar role. It is a necessary resource for the theorist (and the analyst) that she needs in order to generate her hypotheses; at the same time, these hypotheses cannot simply be deduced from the theory but must be developed, tested and continually readjusted in the dialogue with the addressee.27

  • 28 Geuss Raymond, The Idea of a Critical Theory, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1981, p. 62.
  • 29 Williams Bernard, Truth and Truthfulness. An Essay in Genealogy, Princeton, Princeton University P (...)
  • 30 See Honneth Axel, “A Social Pathology of Reason”, in The Cambridge Companion to Critical Theory, R (...)

24On this understanding, reconstructive critique is not just about making explicit something already implicitly present; rather, reconstruction always has a constructive, productive, transformative and normative aspect in that it is undertaken from a particular perspective, with a concrete interest in mind and a specific audience in view. I already mentioned that reconstructive critique in this sense aims to bring about what Raymond Geuss calls “reflective unacceptability”. This means that the agents themselves must appropriate the interpretations, explanations and criticisms proposed by the theorist; they have to come to see the criticized social practices, institutions and self-understandings as reflectively unacceptable. Otherwise the theorist will ultimately have no other choice than to revise her hypotheses accordingly. As Geuss elaborates, “we may call a belief ‘reflectively unacceptable’ to a group of agents if they would give it up were they to reflect on it in the light of information about the conditions under which they could have acquired it. […] Ideologiekritik shows the agents that this world-picture is false consciousness by showing them that it is reflectively unacceptable to them, i.e. by showing them that they could have acquired it only under conditions of coercion.”28 In a similar vein Bernard Williams defines what he calls the “Critical Theory Test” by the following question: “If they were to understand properly how they came to hold this belief, would they give it up?” By posing this question the theorist seeks to initiate a “process of reflective criticism”.29 The underlying assumption is that the addressees will regard certain social conditions as reflectively unacceptable if they are incompatible with their self-understanding as autonomous agents. If critical theory can plausibly show that certain social conditions block the development and/or exercise of those capacities that are constitutive of the self-understanding of its addressees, the latter cannot remain indifferent to this. At least, this seems to be the ‘practical faith’ to which both the analyst and the critic have to subscribe.30

25Showing that something is reflectively unacceptable therefore involves an appeal to the agents’epistemic and normative principles. The critical theorist has to show them that some state of affairs is unacceptable from their own perspective—given their self-understanding. However, since the addressees’self-understanding should not be seen as static but rather as dynamic, they will not simply accept or reject the analyst’s or theorist’s analysis; rather, the two parties will enter into a complex practical dialogue in which reconstructive critique aims at enabling practices of self-reflection and critique that might then lead to changes in self-understanding and subsequently also in practice. It is in this procedural sense that the addressees have the final authority concerning the validation of the theory—there are simply no decisive reasons for or against a theoretical analysis that could be weighed against each other independently of the concrete dialogical process. Reconstructive critique can therefore also be understood as a form of metacritique: a critique that aims at the transformation of those psychological and social conditions that block critique, and at the development and exercise of the relevant reflective capacities. In many cases this will involve what I have above described as a critique of the pathology of excessive recognition.

26In contrast with the later Habermas’s approach, reconstructive critique addresses neither abstract rules and competences nor the normative infrastructure of our social world but the concrete, i.e. historically and socially specific practices, institutions and self-understandings of “determinate subjects” and their potential distortions, with the aim of triggering processes of self-reflection on the part of the agents. It stands in need of what Quentin Skinner and James Tully have called a historical and contextual pragmatics, not a formal and universal one.

27Let me quickly summarize the argument: I have first tried to show that there is a certain blind spot in the recent debate on recognition with regard to the pathologies of excessive recognition; I then presented System Justification Theory as one attempt to explain such pathologies which is not only explanatory but emancipatory in the sense that it seeks to trigger processes of self-reflection that empower the agents themselves; in the last section I argued that a critical theory that wants to address these cases has to proceed in a reconstructive manner, i.e. it has to aim at producing “reflective unacceptability”. In order to do so it has to be understood as contextualist and historicist rather than as transcendental. How exactly it functions is therefore difficult to describe on a general level and should be the topic for another occasion.

  • 31 I am not suggesting that reconstructive critique is apolitical or politically neutral. Even if one (...)
  • 32 I would like to thank the participants of the conference as well as Eva Engels, Rahel Jaeggi, Feli (...)

28At this point, however, one might ask whether this is enough and whether critical theory should not be able to say more about the norms their addressees should subscribe to. Of course, the theorist should be able to say something about these norms; however, I suggest that this is no longer the business of reconstructive critique but of political practice—and that one should not hide the political character of these questions by turning them into abstract theoretical matters on which the theorist has a special competence.31 It is the aim of reconstructive critique to enable people to engage in these political processes of self-reflection and self-determination themselves—not to predetermine their outcome.32

Notes

1 See, for example, Bourdieu Pierre,“Sur le pouvoir symbolique”, in Annales ESC, Vol. 32, Nº 3, juin 1977, p. 405-411; for some of the problems of this approach see VOIROL Olivier, “Reconnaissance et méconnaissance: sur la théorie de la violence symbolique”, in Information sur les Sciences Sociales, Vol. 43, Nº 3, 2004, p. 403-433.

2 Of course, one could now argue that this is not what Honneth calls recognition – but although there is surely some truth in this such a definitory move would not make the problem less pertinent.

3 See Ricœur Paul, Idéologie et l’utopie, Paris, Éditions du Seuil, “La couleur des idées”, 1997, p. 33: “La structure même de légitimation implique le rôle nécessaire de l’idéologie. L’idéologie doit brider les tensions qui caractérisent le procès de légitimation, c’est-à-dire les tensions entre la prétention à la légitimité revendiquée par le pouvoir et la croyance offerte dans cette légitimité que proposent les citoyens. […] La différence entre cette prétention et la croyance offerte signifie la plus-value commune à toutes les structures de pouvoir. Dans sa prétention à la légitimité, toute autorité (pouvoir) demande plus que ce qu’offrent les membres en termes de croyance.” In the terms proposed above, the role of ideology is to secure that there is an excess of recognition, that the citizens themselves forget that there is always a gap and tension between the claim to legitimacy and what they are or should be willing to accept as legitimate.

4 Honneth Axel, “Recognition as Ideology”, in Recognition and Power. Axel Honneth and the Tradition of Critical Social Theory, van den Brink Bert et Owen David (dir.), Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2007, p. 323-347.

5 Ibid., p. 325.

6 Another problem with this approach is that it seems to imply the utopia of a social condition in which there is no need to continue the struggle for recognition – a condition of reconciliation the very idea of which could be regarded as ideological in itself. See Celikates Robin,“Nichtversöhnt – Wo bleibt der Kampf im Kampf um Anerkennung?”, in Socialité et reconnaissance. Grammaires de l’humain, Bertram Georg, Celikates Robin, Laudou Christophe et Lauer David (dir.), Paris, L’Harmattan, “Ouverture philosophique”, 2007, p. 213-228.

7 Deranty Jean-Philippe et Renault Emmanuel, “Politicizing Honneth’s Ethics of Recognition”, in Thesis Eleven, Nº 88, février 2007, p. 92-111.

8 This one-sidedness is therefore different from the one criticized by those for whom focusing on “horizontal” recognition neglects “vertical” recognition. Typically, their point is to emphasize that individuals are dependent on the recognition by institutions such as the state.

9 Of course, “the system” – the social and political order – consists of many different layers and is not a homogeneous whole. It is therefore necessary to specify which level or aspect of “the system” is in play in each case.

10 Jost John T. et Banaji Mahzarin R., “The Role of Stereotyping in System-Justification and the Production of False Consciousness”, in British Journal of Social Psychology, Vol. 33, Nº 1, mars 1994, p. 1-27, at p. 2.

11 Jost John T., Banaji Mahzarin R. et Nosek BrianA.,“A Decade of System Justification Theory. Accumulated Evidence of Conscious and Unconscious Bolstering of the Status Quo”, in Political Psychology, Vol. 25, Nº 6, décember 2004, p. 881-919, at p. 887. This article offers the most comprehensive overview of the different hypotheses of System Justification Theory and summatizes the empirical evidence.

12 In this respect there are obviously important analogies to ‘just-world theory’; for the classic statement see Lerner Melvin J., The Belief in a Just World. A Fundamental Delusion, New York, Plenum Press, 1980.

13 Jost, Banaji and Nosek,“A Decade of System Justification Theory”, op. cit., p. 909.

14 Jost John T. et Hunyady Orsolya,“The Psychology of System Justification and the Palliative Function of Ideology”, in European Review of Social Psychology, Vol. 13, mai 2002, p. 111-153, at p.111.

15 Napier Jaime L., Mandisodza Anesu N., Andersen Susan M. et Jost John T., “System Justification in Responding to the Poor and Displaced in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina”, in Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, Vol. 6, Nº 1, 2006, p. 57-73, at p. 59.

16 See Jost John T., Fitzsimons Gráinne et Kay Aaron C., “The Ideological Animal. A System Justification View”, in Handbook of Experimental Existential Psychology, Greenberg Jeff, Koole Sander L. et Pyszczynski Tom (dir.), New York, Guilford Press, 2004, p. 263-282.

17 Jost, Banaji et Nosek, “A Decade of System Justification Theory”, op. cit., p. 908.

18 The necessity for a third model of critique is also emphasized by Adorno; see Adorno Theodor W., “Cultural Criticism and Society”, in Prisms, Cambridge/MA, MIT Press, 1981, p. 17-34, at p. 31: “The alternatives – either calling culture as a whole into question from outside under the general notion of ideology or con-fronting it with the norms which it itself has crystallized – cannot be accepted by critical theory. To insist on the choice between immanence and transcendence is to revert to the traditional logic criticized in Hegel’s polemic against Kant.”

19 Habermas Jürgen, Knowledge and Human Interests, Boston, Beacon Press, 1972, p. 230. The way in which Habermas changes between reconstruction and construction will turn out to be significant.

20 Ibid., p. 247-248 (the last emphasis is mine).

21 Ibid., p. 377.

22 Ibid., p. 378.

23 For an example of such an elaboration see Tully James, “To Think and Act Differently. Foucault’s Four Reciprocal Objections to Habermas’Theory”, in Foucault contra Habermas, Ashenden Samantha et Owen David (dir.), London, Sage, 1999, p. 90-142.

24 This is one way of understanding Zygmunt Bauman’s distinction between the legislative and the interpretive stance; see Bauman Zygmunt, Intimations of Postmodernity, London, Routledge, 1992, ch. 5.

25 Lear Jonathan, Therapeutic Action, New York, Other Press, 2003, p. 97-98.

26 Habermas Jürgen, “Some Difficulties in the Attempt to Link Theory and Praxis”, in Theory and Practice, London, Heinemann, 1974, p. 1-40, at p. 40.

27 In contrast to Michael Walzer, therefore, a ‘good eye’ or rather a ‘good ear’ is not enough; the analyst and the critic also need a ‘good theory’; see Walzer Michael, “Die Tugend des Augenmaßes”, in Der kritische Blick. Über intellektuelle Tugenden und Tätigkeiten, Wenzel Uwe Justus (dir.), Frankfurt/M., Fischer, 2002, p. 25-38.

28 Geuss Raymond, The Idea of a Critical Theory, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1981, p. 62.

29 Williams Bernard, Truth and Truthfulness. An Essay in Genealogy, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2002, p. 227, 230.

30 See Honneth Axel, “A Social Pathology of Reason”, in The Cambridge Companion to Critical Theory, Rush Fred (dir.), Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2004, p. 336-360, esp. p. 355-357.

31 I am not suggesting that reconstructive critique is apolitical or politically neutral. Even if one does not subscribe to a strict opposition between theory and practice, however, it still seems to make sense to distinguish between the practice of theory (with its political dimensions) and the practice of politics (with its theoretical dimensions).

32 I would like to thank the participants of the conference as well as Eva Engels, Rahel Jaeggi, Felix Koch and Ruth Sonderegger for helpful discussions.

Auteur

Universität Bremen

© Presses universitaires de Paris Nanterre, 2009

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