Jurgen Habermas, a German philosopher and sociologist born in 1929, has propounded theory inscribed in the tradition of the significant theory and American pragmatism. He has written several pieces about communication, social identity, Europe and multiculturalism in the post-national constitutional state. He is one of the most influential thinkers of contemporary times holding lectures in the most prestigious universities worldwide (Stanford University, Northwestern University, Goethe University) and also serves as a consultant for the European Institutions.
-The article Struggles for Recognition in the Democratic Constitutional State was published in 1993 in Taylor's and Gutman's Multiculturalism: Examining the Politics of Recognition. Habermas tries to answer the controversial question: Should citizen's identities as part of cultural, religious or ethnic groups publicly matter? Should collective identities in the democratic constitutional State be recognized by the distribution of special rights?
In the framework of multicultural studies, Habermas is neither a communitarian (like Charles Taylor) nor a liberal (like Dominique Schnapper). He is critical of both theories although he uses some of their concepts to build his own theory of multiculturalism.
-Liberal theory: The State is blind to any color, religion or race, its only purpose is to guarantee equal fundamental rights and freedom in order to enable each of its citizens to pursuit his or her own life project. The State does not grant collective rights, only individual rights allowing any citizen to prosper in his or her personal beliefs and identity.
Tags:Liberal theory,democratic constitutional State,Struggles for Recognition in the Democratic Constitutional State
[...] Any citizen should not be forced to reproduce the inherited traditions. For example, the children of immigrants should have the right to say whether or not they want to keep some of the traditions or none of them. According to Habermas the problem is that legal guarantees aiming at protecting a minority group's survival (cf. Taylor) would deprive its members of the freedom to break off from their own tradition. C. Actualizing the democratic constitutional state -In spite of his refusal to recognize collective rights to specific groups within the society, Habermas does not reject the entire communitarian theory of multiculturalism Charles Taylor is in favour of. [...]
[...] Indeed, according to him constitutional patriotism is the key to the building of a strong European Union. His theory is at the opposite of the national-communautarian idea according to which the building of political institutions at the European scale is impossible because there is no European Nation. A European constitutional patriotism must be promoted without refering to any cultural identity but only to the European post-national political identity (European Charter of Human Rights, Democratic principles, Peace etc.). National cultural identities would not disappear but countries would constantly question their legal systems regarding the European post- national universalistic principles. [...]
[...] =Habermas : According to him, the recognition of specific collective rights for minority groups is not compatible with the individualistic modern democratic constitutional State. However, cultural rights should be granted not to groups or communities but to persons belonging to different cultural groups. I. Universalistic principles are at the core of the democratic constitutional State : how to articulate those principles with the recognition of collective identities ? A. The legal protection of collective identities comes into competition with the right to equal individual liberties -According to Habermas, the legal protection of collective identities comes into competition with the right to equal individual liberties. [...]
[...] Indeed, collective rights might be dangerous or illegitimate if they are against the founding principles of the modern constitutional state. For example, the State must guarantee the same liberties and rights that any citizen benefit from to the daughters of Turkish immigrants in Germany who, in certain communities, are denied the right to participate to some fields of education. Because some collective rights are contrary to the state founding principles they should not be recognized and every citizen should have the same individual rights and liberties within a State. [...]
[...] This is his theory of constitutional patriotism. II. The theory of constitutional patriotism A. Citizenship vs. national identity in the modern multicultural State -Habermas' theory of constitutional patriotism is built on the actualization of the welcoming country's legal system as its population changes. Newcomers must be able to recognize themselves in the political culture of their new country in order to adhere to it. Constitutional patriotism refers to the democratic and universalistic principles which bond the different groups together in a State with the same feeling of belonging to that State. [...]
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