chapter  4
16 Pages

The Concept of Lifeworld and Education in Post-modernity: A Critical Appraisal of Habermas’ Theory of Communicative Action


This chapter explores the relevance of Habermas’ Theory of Communicative Action (TCA) for education (Habermas 1984, 1987a). Priority is given to the concept of lifeworld. It is central in his work as a whole and it may shed new light on a key aspect of education, namely paradigmatic shifts in national curricular goals, the educational scope of this chapter. Habermas in TCA investigates whether rationalization could be seen as a main driving force for modernization, and if postmodern tendencies could be seen as dysfunctions of lifeworld as a reproductive cultural system (Habermas 1984). This chapter investigates the adequacy of key concepts connected to ‘lifeworld’ dealing with educational goals within the post-/modern. The form ‘post-/modern’ signals that the two aspects are seen as both oppositional and reciprocal. Regarding education, shifts in goals for national curricula may be interpreted as a symptom of a deeper post-/modern confl ict. Based on a study of goals, both for a general and a disciplinary curriculum, the chapter discusses whether a Habermasian framework can help sort out crucial dilemmas.