From Legitimation Crises to Movements to Power

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 18:30
Location: Hörsaal 10 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Lauren LANGMAN, Loyola University, USA
Habermas’ 1975 theory of the legitimation crises,of capitalist economies, which was informed by Weber’s theories of legitimacy, power and rationality, examined interrelated yet analytically differentiated aspects of system crisis. Legitimation crises occur at the system level when 1) the economic system fails to produce and/or deliver adequate incomes, goods, and/or services, 2) when the political systems of advanced democracies see their legitimation questioned in face of economic conditions/political events, especially downturns and reversals; or 3) when cultural crises and anomie occurs, i.e., when existing values no longer serve to justify and guide behavior required by an evolving social system. The salient insight of the theory, however, is that crises of legitimation at the system level tend to migrate into the life world, where they impact identities and emotions. Habermas’ theory emerged when Keynesian theory began to wane. The various dysfunctions, contradictions, and adverse consequences of neoliberal globalization that became very evident in 2007-8 prompt us to return to, review, and revise Habermas’ theory for a neoliberal age. Perhaps the initial point to be made is that crises at the system level fosters alienation and a variety of discontents and “moral shocks” (Jaspers) that become channeled into social movements and social, cultural. or political action. We have thus seen a variety of political mobilizations, both left and right, following crises. In order to understand the basis, recruitment, and destinies of these movements, we should note the intersection of class, character, and emotional constellations. What specific events or conditions foster discontents and malaise, and in turn motivate recruitment into social movements? Once so formed, what factors sustain participation in such movements? Why do particular actors gravitate toward the right and others toward the left?What are the impacts and implications of social movements in terms of gaining political power and social transformation?