Sunday, September 28, 2008

Keywords for Prof. Alastair Pennycook's Critical Applied Linguistics #3

1.2 Historical / political terms

1.2.1 Enlightenment

A dictionary definition of the Enlightenment is "a philosophic movement of the 18th century characterized by an untrammeled but frequently uncritical use of reason, a lively questioning of authority and traditional doctrines and values, a tendency toward individualism, and an emphasis on the idea of universal human progress and on the empirical method in science." (Merriam-Webster's Unabridged Dictionary).

Although, the Enlightenment is usually associated with the 18 century, as Paul Brians says in his homepage, the notion goes back to much further.

The 18th century is often described as the Age of Enlightenment, whereas the 17th is typically known as the Age of Reason.

Origins of the Enlightenment can be traced to thinkers like Descartes, Newton, Thomas Paine, Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and David Hume

Following the revolution of knowledge, commenced by Rene' Descartes and Isaac Newton, and in a climate of increasing disaffection with repressive rule, Enlightenment thinkers believed that systematic thinking might be applied to all areas of human activity, and carried into the governmental sphere, in their explorations of the individual, society and the state.[5] Its leaders believed they could lead their states to progress after a long period of tradition, irrationality, superstition, and tyranny which they imputed to the Middle Ages. ...

The Age of Enlightenment receives modern attention as a central model for many movements in the modern period. Another important movement in 18th century philosophy, closely related to it, focused on belief and piety. Some of its proponents, such as George Berkeley, attempted to demonstrate rationally the existence of a supreme being. Piety and belief in this period were integral to the exploration of natural philosophy and ethics, in addition to political theories of the age. However, prominent Enlightenment philosophers such as Thomas Paine, Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and David Hume questioned and attacked the existing institutions of both Church and State. The 19th century also saw a continued rise of empiricist ideas and their application to political economy, government and sciences such as physics, chemistry and biology.

But of course, we cannot afford to forget Kant, his work What is Enlightenment.

The Enlightenment established what we regard as "obvious" or even "sacred" such as freedom, democracy, reason, market mechanism, capitalism, scientific method

The Enlightenment is held to be the source of critical ideas, such as the centrality of freedom, democracy and reason as primary values of society. This view argues that the establishment of a contractual basis of rights would lead to the market mechanism and capitalism, the scientific method, religious tolerance, and the organization of states into self-governing republics through democratic means. In this view, the tendency of the philosophies in particular to apply rationality to every problem is considered the essential change. From this point on, thinkers and writers were held to be free to pursue the truth in whatever form, without the threat of sanction for violating established ideas. However, the Romanticism movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century had argued that the Enlightenment had elevated reason to the unwarranted status of a new authority.

Read Kant's short essay "What is Enlightenment?" provided by Wikisource. One of the most idealistic passages (not in an ironic sense) would be the following. Note how Kant used the terms "the public use of reason" and "the private use of reason."

For this enlightenment, however, nothing is required but freedom, and indeed the most harmless among all the things to which this term can properly be applied. It is the freedom to make public use of one's reason at every point. But I hear on all sides, "Do not argue!" The Officer says: "Do not argue but drill!" The tax collector: "Do not argue but pay!" The cleric: "Do not argue but believe!" Only one prince in the world says, "Argue as much as you will, and about what you will, but obey!" Everywhere there is restriction on freedom.

Which restriction is an obstacle to enlightenment, and which is not an obstacle but a promoter of it? I answer: The public use of one's reason must always be free, and it alone can bring about enlightenment among men. The private use of reason, on the other hand, may often be very narrowly restricted without particularly hindering the progress of enlightenment. By the public use of one's reason I understand the use which a person makes of it as a scholar before the reading public. Private use I call that which one may make of it in a particular civil post or office which is entrusted to him. ... Thus it would be ruinous for an officer in service to debate about the suitability or utility of a command given to him by his superior; he must obey. But the right to make remarks on errors in the military service and to lay them before the public for judgment cannot equitably be refused him as a scholar. The citizen cannot refuse to pay the taxes imposed on him; indeed, an impudent complaint at those levied on him can be punished as a scandal (as it could occasion general refractoriness). But the same person nevertheless does not act contrary to his duty as a citizen, when, as a scholar, he publicly expresses his thoughts on the inappropriateness or even the injustices of these levies, Similarly a clergyman is obligated to make his sermon to his pupils in catechism and his congregation conform to the symbol of the church which he serves, for he has been accepted on this condition. But as a scholar he has complete freedom, even the calling, to communicate to the public all his carefully tested and well meaning thoughts on that which is erroneous in the symbol and to make suggestions for the better organization of the religious body and church.

Read my short Japanese essay on the public use of reason:

1.2.2 Colonialism

In a narrower sense, colonialism started or began to be the way it is understood now in the sixteenth century, when "colonialism changed decisively because of technological developments in navigation that began to connect more remote parts of the world." (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy ). Colonialism is often used as a synonym for imperialism.

Colonialism was often justified by a "religious discourse that legitimized military conquest as a way to facilitate the conversion and salvation of indigenous peoples" or by the idea of a “civilizing mission.”(Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy )

For controversies on colonialism, see

The year of 1492 for The Spanish Empire is very symbolic for colonialism as MOTOHASHI Tetsuya says.

In that year The Spanish Empire saw the expulsion of Muslims and Jews from its land, the departure of Christopher Columbus, and the publication of a grammar book of the Castillian language by Antonio de Nebrija, all of which solidified the modernity of the Empire.

1.2.3 Emancipation

Emancipation is a general political term that means "various efforts to obtain political rights or equality."

In Pennycook's book, the term is sometimes associated with Habermas whose "theoretical system is devoted to revealing the possibility of reason, emancipation and rational-critical communication latent in modern institutions and in the human capacity to deliberate and pursue rational interests."

1.2.4 Liberalism

The term "liberalism" has variety of meanings, and it is not easy to define it both comprehensively and succinctly. The general definition that Wikipedia gives, however, seems a reasonable one.

Liberalism refers to a broad array of related ideas and theories of government that consider individual liberty to be the most important political goal. Modern liberalism has its roots in the Age of Enlightenment.

Broadly speaking, liberalism emphasizes individual rights and equality of opportunity. Different forms of liberalism may propose very different policies, but they are generally united by their support for a number of principles, including extensive freedom of thought and speech, limitations on the power of governments, the rule of law, the free exchange of ideas, a market or mixed economy, and a transparent system of government. All liberals ― as well as some adherents of other political ideologies ― support some variant of the form of government known as liberal democracy, with open and fair elections, where all citizens have equal rights by law.

Another way to define liberalism is the way Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy does in the conclusion part of the entry, which defines the concept negatively: what liberalism is NOT.

Radical democrats assert the overriding value of equality, communitarians maintain that the demands of belongingness trump freedom, and conservatives complain that the liberal devotion to freedom undermines traditional values and virtues and so social order itself. Intramural disputes aside, liberals join in rejecting these conceptions of political right.

Note the difference between liberalism and neo-liberalism. Neo-liberalism is a development (or distortion) of the traditional liberalism for the aspect of economic liberalism. As Elizabeth Martinez and Arnoldo Garcia, National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights say, neo-liberalism is even admired by many conservatives in the US:

"Liberalism" can refer to political, economic, or even religious ideas. In the U.S. political liberalism has been a strategy to prevent social conflict. It is presented to poor and working people as progressive compared to conservative or Rightwing. Economic liberalism is different. Conservative politicians who say they hate "liberals" -- meaning the political type -- have no real problem with economic liberalism, including neoliberalism.

Elizabeth Martinez and Arnoldo Garcia define the features of neo-liberalism as follows:

The main points of neo-liberalism include:
THE RULE OF THE MARKET. Liberating "free" enterprise or private enterprise from any bonds imposed by the government (the state) no matter how much social damage this causes. Greater openness to international trade and investment, as in NAFTA. Reduce wages by de-unionizing workers and eliminating workers' rights that had been won over many years of struggle. No more price controls. All in all, total freedom of movement for capital, goods and services. To convince us this is good for us, they say "an unregulated market is the best way to increase economic growth, which will ultimately benefit everyone." It's like Reagan's "supply-side" and "trickle-down" economics -- but somehow the wealth didn't trickle down very much.
CUTTING PUBLIC EXPENDITURE FOR SOCIAL SERVICES like education and health care. REDUCING THE SAFETY-NET FOR THE POOR, and even maintenance of roads, bridges, water supply -- again in the name of reducing government's role. Of course, they don't oppose government subsidies and tax benefits for business.
DEREGULATION. Reduce government regulation of everything that could diminish profits, including protecting the environment and safety on the job.
PRIVATIZATION. Sell state-owned enterprises, goods and services to private investors. This includes banks, key industries, railroads, toll highways, electricity, schools, hospitals and even fresh water. Although usually done in the name of greater efficiency, which is often needed, privatization has mainly had the effect of concentrating wealth even more in a few hands and making the public pay even more for its needs.
ELIMINATING THE CONCEPT OF "THE PUBLIC GOOD" or "COMMUNITY" and replacing it with "individual responsibility." Pressuring the poorest people in a society to find solutions to their lack of health care, education and social security all by themselves -- then blaming them, if they fail, as "lazy."

1.2.5 Dialectic

To borrow Merriam-Webster Dictionary's definitions, "dialectic" in a general sense means "any systematic reasoning, exposition, or argument that juxtaposes opposed or contradictory ideas and usually seeks to resolve their conflict b: an intellectual exchange of ideas." However, the term often has philosophical associations, either with Socrates ("discussion and reasoning by dialogue as a method of intellectual investigation; specifically : the Socratic techniques of exposing false beliefs and eliciting truth" or Hegel "a: the Hegelian process of change in which a concept or its realization passes over into and is preserved and fulfilled by its opposite; also : the critical investigation of this process b (1)usually plural but singular or plural in construction : development through the stages of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis in accordance with the laws of dialectical materialism".

The German word "Aufhebung" is famous for its use by Hegel. See the entry of Wikipedia ("sublation" as the English translation."

For a detailed explanation, see Wikipedia.

For applied linguists, it is interesting to note Prof. Lantolf, a socio-cultural researcher emhasises this notion.

This is a long-winded way of getting to my answer -- the single most important notion to be discovered in Vygotsky is his dialectical perspective on human consciousness. Until this notion emerges in your thinking, you are left with a collection of concepts (the ZPD, private speech, mediation, activity, sense, meaning, etc.). (p. 129)

To function dialectically means to be able to hold in one cognitive space notions that on the surface appear to be contrary (learning / development, implicit / explicit knowledge, input / output, etc.) and to come to understand how these seeming contraries fit together as necessary components of the object of study.

Dialogue and context are events and spaces. What matters is the quality of what happens in these events and spaces. A dialogue for instance can be antagonistic rather than dialectical. A dialogue can also be cooperative and even collaborative without being dialectical. (p. 129)

SLA is still functioning under a set of dichotomies that I think have prevented us from fully understanding the nature of language learning and teaching. These include competence / performance, learning / acquisition, input / output, leaning / use, individual / social, explicit / implicit knowledge, teaching / assessment, teacher-centered / learner-centered pedagogy, et cetera. At the moment I am carrying out what is likely to be an extended project on what SLA would look like from a dialectical rather than a dichotic perspective. (p. 129)

Deryn P. Verity Associate Editor, JALT Journal
Exploring the Dialectic: An Interview with James P. Lantolf
JALT Journal Volume 29, No.1, May 2007, pp. 123-130.

1.2.6 Marxism

As Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy says, "it is hard to think of many who have had as much influence in the creation of the modern world."

Wikipedia explains typical features of Marxism as follows:

While there are many theoretical and practical differences among the various forms of Marxism, most forms of Marxism share:

* a belief that capitalism is based on the exploitation of workers by the owners of capital

* a belief that people's consciousness of the conditions of their lives reflects material conditions and relations

* an understanding of class in terms of differing relations of production, and as a particular position within such relations

* an understanding of material conditions and social relations as historically malleable

* a view of history according to which class struggle, the evolving conflict between classes with opposing interests, structures each historical period and drives historical change

Wikipedia summarizes Das Kapitalquite succinctly:

The central driving force of capitalism, according to Marx, was in the exploitation and alienation of labour. The ultimate source of the new profits and value-added was that employers paid workers the market value of their labour-capacity, but the value of the commodities workers produced exceeded that market value. Employers were entitled to appropriate the new output value because of their ownership of the productive capital assets. By producing output as capital for the employers, the workers constantly reproduced the condition of capitalism by their labour.

Perhaps it is more important for us, applied linguists and language teachers, to realize that without a proper understanding of Marx and Marxism, it is very difficult to understand the works of scholars that include (to mention just a too few):

Mikhail Bakhtin

Lev Vygotsky

Paulo Freire

Hannah Arendt

Immanuel Wallerstein

Antonio Negri

James Lantolf

We are tempted to categorize thinkers like the above as "Marxist philosophers," but the diversity of Marx's influence prevents an easy categorization.

The phrase "Marxist philosophy" itself does not indicate a strictly defined sub-field of philosophy, because the diverse influence of Marxist theory has extended into fields as diverse as aesthetics, ethics, ontology, epistemology, and philosophy of science, as well as its obvious influence on political philosophy and the philosophy of history. The key characteristics of Marxism in philosophy are its materialism and its commitment to political practice as the end goal of all thought.

The following is a small portion of famous words of Marx, which is now almost cliches.

* The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it."Theses on Feuerbach" (1845), Thesis 11

* Hegel remarks somewhere that history tends to repeat itself. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce. Alternative translation: "The first time as a tragedy, the second time as a comedy." The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852)

The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. WORKING MEN OF THE WORLD, UNITE! Das Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei (1848), by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

* The first premise of all human history is, of course, the existence of living human individuals. Thus the first fact to be established is the physical organisation of these individuals and their consequent relation to the rest of nature. Volume I; Part 1; "Feuerbach. Opposition of the Materialist and Idealist Outlook"; Section A, "Idealism and Materialism" Die deutsche Ideologie (1845/46), by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

For Marxism in general, see the website below for further study:

Here's my article on Marx's dialectics according to David Harvey.

Please read my summary of Moishe Postone (1993) Time, Labor, and Social Domination: A reinterpretation of Marx's critical theory (Cambridge University Press)

For a quick introduction to Das Kapital, read my Japanese page.

1.2.7 Humanism

Humanism seem an uncontroversial term when it is defined as "a doctrine, set of attitudes, or way of life centered upon human interests or values: as a: a philosophy that rejects supernaturalism, regards man as a natural object, and asserts the essential dignity and worth of man and his capacity to achieve self-realization through the use of reason and scientific method" (Merriam-Webster Dictionary) or when you read Wikipedia.

However, the term does not look so uncontroversial when we consider "antihumanism." My personal opinion is that the versions of antihumanism that have been advocated by structuralists, Michel Foucault, Jack Derrida or Niklas Luhmann deserve careful attentions.

Introduction to Foucault:

See also Open Culture.

1.2.8 Critical Theory

As Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy says, "Critical Theory has a narrow and a broad meaning in philosophy and in the history of the social sciences.

“Critical Theory” in the narrow sense designates several generations of German philosophers and social theorists in the Western European Marxist tradition known as the Frankfurt School. According to these theorists, a “critical” theory may be distinguished from a “traditional” theory according to a specific practical purpose: a theory is critical to the extent that it seeks human emancipation, “to liberate human beings from the circumstances that enslave them” (Horkheimer 1982, 244). Because such theories aim to explain and transform all the circumstances that enslave human beings, many “critical theories” in the broader sense have been developed. They have emerged in connection with the many social movements that identify varied dimensions of the domination of human beings in modern societies. In both the broad and the narrow senses, however, a critical theory provides the descriptive and normative bases for social inquiry aimed at decreasing domination and increasing freedom in all their forms.

The term is also used in lierary criticism.

The explanation of Critical Theory given by Wikipedia is to contrast the notion in the two areas: social theory and literary criticism.

Critical Theory as a social thoery has its roots in Kant and Marx:

This version of "critical" theory derives from Kant's (18th-Century) and Marx's (19th Century) use of the term "critique", as in Kant's Critique of Pure Reason and Marx's concept that his work Das Kapital (Capital) forms a "critique of political economy". For Kant's transcendental idealism, "critique" means examining and establishing the limits of the validity of a faculty, type, or body of knowledge, especially through accounting for the limitations imposed by the fundamental, irreducible concepts in use in that knowledge system. Early on, Kant's notion associated critique with the disestablishment of false, unprovable, or dogmatic philosophical, social, and political beliefs, because Kant's critique of reason involved the critique of dogmatic theological and metaphysical ideas and was intertwined with the enhancement of ethical autonomy and the Enlightenment critique of superstition and irrational authority. Marx explicitly developed this notion into the critique of ideology and linked it with the practice of social revolution, as in the famous 11th of his "Theses on Feuerbach," "Philosophers have only interpreted the world in certain ways; the point is to change it".

A broader understanding of Critical Theory as a social theory is as follows:

The term critical theory, in the sociological or philosophical and non-literary sense, now loosely groups all sorts of work, including that of the Frankfurt School, Michel Foucault, Pierre Bourdieu, disability studies and feminist theory, that has in common the critique of domination, an emancipatory interest, and the fusion of social/cultural analysis, explanation, and interpretation with social/cultural critique.

According to Habermas, Critical Theory was redifined in the following manner, expanding its scope to include various branches of social theories:

In the late 1960s Ju"rgen Habermas of the Frankfurt School, redefined critical theory in a way that freed it from a direct tie to Marxism or the prior work of the Frankfurt School. In Habermas's epistemology, critical knowledge was conceptualized as knowledge that enabled human beings to emancipate themselves from forms of domination through self-reflection and took psychoanalysis as the paradigm of critical knowledge. This expanded considerably the scope of what counted as critical theory within the social sciences, which would include such approaches as world systems theory, feminist theory, postcolonial theory, critical race theory, performance studies, transversal poetics, queer theory, social ecology, the theory of communicative action (Ju"rgen Habermas), structuration theory, psychoanalysis and neo-Marxian theory.

Critical theory in literary criticism does not necessarily have social and political orientations. The relationship between these two versions are explained in Wikipedia as follows:

To use an epistemological distinction introduced by Ju"rgen Habermas in 1968 in his Erkenntnis und Interesse (Knowledge and Human Interests), critical theory in literary studies is ultimately a form of hermeneutics, i.e. knowledge via interpretation to understand the meaning of human texts and symbolic expressions, while critical social theory is, in contrast, a form of self-reflective knowledge involving both understanding and theoretical explanation to reduce entrapment in systems of domination or dependence, obeying the emancipatory interest in expanding the scope of autonomy and reducing the scope of domination. From this perspective, much literary critical theory, since it is focused on interpretation and explanation rather than on social transformation, would be regarded as positivistic or traditional rather than critical theory in the Kantian or Marxian sense. Critical theory in literature and the humanities in general does not necessarily involve a normative dimension, whereas critical social theory does, either through criticizing society from some general theory of values, norms, or oughts, or through criticizing it in terms of its own espoused values.

It is important to notice that the two versions of Critical Theory share interests in language communication.

From the 1960s and 1970s onward, language, symbolism, text, and meaning became foundational to theory in the humanities and social sciences, through the short-term and long-term influences of Ludwig Wittgenstein, Ferdinand de Saussure, George Herbert Mead, Noam Chomsky, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida and other thinkers in the traditions of linguistic and analytic philosophy, structural linguistics, symbolic interactionism, hermeneutics, semiology, linguistically oriented psychoanalysis (Jacques Lacan, Alfred Lorenzer), and deconstruction. When, in the 1970s and 1980s, Ju"rgen Habermas also redefined critical social theory as a theory of communication, i.e. communicative competence and communicative rationality on the one hand, distorted communication on the other, the two versions of critical theory began to overlap or intertwine to a much greater degree than before.

1.2.9 Frankfurt School

A brief definition of Frankfurt School can be found in the Introduction to the Frankfurt School:

The scholars that made up the Frankfurt school were all directly, or indirectly associated with a place called the Institute of Social Research. The nickname of the thinkers, originates in the location of the institute, Frankfurt Germany. The names of the men who made significant contributions to this school of thought are, Theodor W. Adorno (philosopher, sociologist and musicologist), Walter Benjamin (essayist and literary critic), Herbert Marcuse (philosopher), Max Horkheimer (philosopher, sociologist), and later, Jurgen Habermas.

For a more detailed explanation, see Wikipedia

Some features of Adorno's theory are explained in Wikipedia as follows:

Adorno, along with the other major Frankfurt School theorists Max Horkheimer and Herbert Marcuse, argued that advanced capitalism had managed to contain or liquidate the forces that would bring about its collapse and that the revolutionary moment, when it would have been possible to transform it into socialism, had passed. As he put it at the beginning of his Negative Dialectics (1966), philosophy is still necessary because the time to realise it was missed. Adorno argued that capitalism had become more entrenched through its attack on the objective basis of revolutionary consciousness and through liquidation of the individualism that had been the basis of critical consciousness.

Adorno's work in the years before his death was shaped by the idea of "negative dialectics", set out especially in his book of that title. A key notion in the work of the Frankfurt School since Dialectic of Enlightenment had been the idea of thought becoming an instrument of domination that subsumes all objects under the control of the (dominant) subject, especially through the notion of identity, i.e. of identifying as real in nature and society only that which harmonized or fit with dominant concepts, and regarding as unreal or non-existent everything that did not. Adorno's "negative dialectics" was an attempt to articulate a non-dominating thought that would recognize its limitations and accept the non-identity and reality of that which could not be subsumed under the subject's concepts.

1.2.10 Habermas

Habermas, as Stanford Encyclopedia suggests, is a philosophical hero to many.

See YouTube if you're interested

But Pennycook seems to have some reservation when he mentions Habermas rather frequently in his book. I also share the reservation because I am influenced by Luhmann.

I hope the book "Theorie der Gesellschaft oder Sozialtechnologie: Beitr. z. Habermas-Luhmann-Diskussion" be paid more attention. (A Japanese translation was published, but now out of print.)

For an introduction of Habermas in the context of Frankfurt School, see

"Habermas links" is a very useful site.

If you believe in "post-modernity," it must be so easy to deride Habermas for his "project of modernity." Yet, efforts are needed whether the concept of modernity is really "obsolete" and of no use as a norm.

I highly recommend a short paper "The Challenge of Modernity: Habermas and Critical Theory" by Prof. Jason L. Powell, School of Community, Health Sciences and Social Care, University of Salford. The paper gives a very clear synopsis of what Habermas is about and is not. Here are its first two paragraphs.

The theoretical-philosophical work of Jurgen Habermas occupies a significant position in western social and political discourse. Roderick (1986) claims Habermas represents the most important attempt at re-constructing critical theory out of the shadows of Marx. Coupled with this, Habermas uses Kant and Hegel to revitalise Marxism by developing an emancipatory theory of society. In addition, drawing on the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory (Adorno, Horkheimer, Benjamin and Marcuse), Habermas elaborates a far-reaching critique of methods of domination in modern society. Despite this critique, Habermas is more affirmative and keen towards the classical philosophical tradition, particularly the ‘enlightenment’. For the past two decades in particular, Habermas has written on the enlightenment project in a reflexive manner, facing up to enlightenment thought and legacy via a systematic critical analysis of the present: its historiography, pathologies, and future prospects. At the same time, there has been a huge escalation of neo-Nietzschean philosophers under the labels of ‘postmodernist’ and ‘post-structuralist’ who have castigated the enlightenment to the dustbin of the history of ideas, claiming that its metanarratives of ‘progress’ and ‘freedom’ have failed and that western rationality is exhausted.

Habermas (1992) agrees that neo-Nietzschean critiques of enlightenment fail because they lose a sense of direction. In regard to Foucault (1977), Habermas (1992) accuses him of ‘cryptonormativity’ and ‘irrationality’: the former applies because Foucault cannot explain the standards Habermas thinks must be pre-supposed in any condemnation of the present; the latter because of Nietzsche’s affirmation of power over against reason. The somewhat legendary albeit brief dispute between Habermas and Foucault turns on whether Foucault is understood to be criticising modernity from a pre-modern or postmodern view. Habermas is willing to defend his own reconstruction of the modern enlightenment tradition, against those critics of modernity he considers to be anti-modern because of the reactionary implications of their views.

The following is some excerpts from HABERMAS’S THEORY OF COMMUNICATIVE ACTION AND THE THEORY OF SOCIAL CAPITAL by Prof. Roger Bolton, Department of Economics and Center for Environmental Studies, Williams College, concerning four models of social actions:

Habermas distinguishes four kinds of action by individuals in society (TCA1, pp.85-86):
--teleological action, with strategic action as a subset;
--normatively regulated action;
--dramaturgical action;
--communicative action.

All four are actually "models," he says, a word he uses again and again.

Teleological Action. The actor makes a "decision among alternative courses of action, with a view to the realization of an end, guided by maxims, and based on an interpretation of the situation" (TCA1, p. 85). In the subset called strategic action the actor anticipates what other actors directed by goals will do, and a model that lies behind decision theory and game theory (ibid.). Certainly it seems to be what we might call the meat and potatoes of standard economics. However, while here strategic action is a subset of teleological action, later in the book Habermas uses "strategic" as more or less synonymous with teleological.

Normatively Regulated Action. Actors in a social group pursue common values or norms of the group, "fulfilling a generalized expectation of behavior" (ibid.;“expectation” is in the sense of entitlement). This model of action underlies role theory in sociology (ibid.). ...

Dramaturgical Action. Sometimes an actor is neither solitary nor a member of a social group, but is interacting with people who are "constituting a public for one another, before whom they present themselves. The actor evokes in his public a certain image, an impression of himself …." (TCA1, p. 86). He has privileged access to his own intentions, desires, etc. but can monitor or regulate public access to them. ...

Communicative Action. Here two or more actors establish a relationship and“seek to reach an understanding about the action situation and their plans of action in order to coordinate their actions by way of agreement. The central concept of interpretation refers in the first instance to negotiating definitions of the situation which admit of consensus. …" (ibid.). Habermas credits George Herbert Mead (1934) and Harold Garfinkel (1967) for helping give paradigmatic significance to communicative action. ...
pp. 6-8

See also what Wikipedia says about this book.

Read the entry of "public sphere" (German term "Öffentlichkeit") in Wikipedia. Habarmas's The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere made a great contribution to conceptualize the notion of the public sphere.

Here is the first paragraph:

The public sphere is an area in social life where people can get together and freely discuss and identify societal problems, and through that discussion influence political action. It is "a discursive space in which individuals and groups congregate to discuss matters of mutual interest and, where possible, to reach a common judgment." The public sphere can be seen as "a theater in modern societies in which political participation is enacted through the medium of talk" and "a realm of social life in which public opinion can be formed".

Note also that Habermas was influenced by Hannah Arendt for the notion.
My brief introduction to Arendt (The Human Condition, in particular) is here.

I once wrote a paper which analyzed the practice of a renowed Japanese English teacher throgh the framework of Arendt's philosophy.
The English version of the paper is here.

The Japanese version is here.

If you read Japanese and want to be entertained by PowerPoint slides to know more about Arendt, downloard my slides here.

If you read Japanese, read my short essay on Habermas's Technology and Science as Ideology, another important work by Habermas.

1.2.11 Orientalism

Edward Said used the term "Orientalism" to refer to the Western view of the East, by which the westerners see or justifiy themselves in opposition to the East. Said argues the divide between the East and the West was created rather than discovered.

According to Wikipedia, Said summarized his work in these terms:

"My contention is that Orientalism is fundamentally a political doctrine willed over the Orient because the Orient was weaker than the West, which elided the Orient’s difference with its weakness. . . . As a cultural apparatus Orientalism is all aggression, activity, judgment, will-to-truth, and knowledge" (Orientalism, p. 204).

Said also wrote:

"My whole point about this system is not that it is a misrepresentation of some Oriental essence ― in which I do not for a moment believe ― but that it operates as representations usually do, for a purpose, according to a tendency, in a specific historical, intellectual, and even economic setting" (p. 273).

Or the main argument can be summarized as follows as Wikipedia did:

Said contended that Europe had dominated Asia politically so completely for so long that even the most outwardly objective Western texts on the East were permeated with a bias that even most Western scholars could not recognise. His contention was not only that the West has conquered the East politically but also that Western scholars have appropriated the exploration and interpretation of the Orient’s languages, history and culture for themselves. They have written Asia’s past and constructed its modern identities from a perspective that takes Europe as the norm, from which the "exotic", "inscrutable" Orient deviates.

1.2.12 Feminism

Feminism is "the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men." ( Unabridged (v 1.1)). It has varieties of versions.

The history of feminism has three "waves."

The history of feminism is the history of feminist movements and their efforts to overturn injustices of gender inequality. Feminist scholars have divided feminism's history into three "waves".[1][2] Each is described as dealing with different aspects of the same feminist issues. The first wave refers to the feminism movement of the 19th through early 20th centuries, which dealt mainly with the Suffrage movement. The second wave (1960s-1980s) dealt with the inequality of laws, as well as cultural inequalities. The Third wave of Feminism (1990s-current), is seen as both a continuation and a response to the perceived failures of the Second-wave.

As a representative feminist of the second-wave feminist, we may take Betty Friedan. Her book, The Feminine Mystique “ignited the contemporary women's movement in 1963 and as a result permanently transformed the social fabric of the United States and countries around the world” and “is widely regarded as one of the most influential nonfiction books of the 20th century,”according to the New York Times obituary. Wikipedia summarizes the theme of the book as follows: Friedan hypothesized that women are victims of a false belief system that requires them to find identity and meaning in their lives through their husbands and children. Such a system causes women to completely lose their identity in that of their family.

As is true with any influential books, it received criticism, one of which claimed that she solely focused on the plight of the middle-class white female, and did not gave ample attention to the differing situations encountered by women in less stable economical situations, or women of differing race.

Or in the Japanese context, Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex is probably better known. Wikipedia uses Judith Butler's summary to address the importance of the book.

Judith Butler says that de Beauvoir's formulation that "One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman", distinguishes the terms 'sex' and 'gender'. Butler says that the book suggests that 'gender' is an aspect of identity which is "gradually acquired". Butler sees The Second Sex as potentially providing a radical understanding of gender.

The third-wave feminism can be summarized as follows:

Third-wave feminism seeks to challenge or avoid what it deems the second wave's "essentialist" definitions of femininity, which often assumed a universal female identity and over-emphasized experiences of upper middle class white women. A post-structuralist interpretation of gender and sexuality is central to third wave ideology. There is a heightened emphasis on the discursive power and fundamental ambiguity inherent in gender terms and categories. Third-wave theory usually encompasses queer theory, transgender politics and a rejection of the gender binary, anti-racism and women-of-color consciousness, womanism, post-colonial theory, critical theory, transnationalism, ecofeminism, libertarian feminism, and new feminist theory. Also considered part of the third wave is sex-positivity, a celebration of sexuality as a positive aspect of life, with broader definitions of what sex means and what oppression and empowerment may mean in the context of sex. For example, many third-wave feminists have reconsidered oppositions to pornography and sex work of the second wave and challenge existing beliefs that participants in pornography and sex work can not be empowered.

For "queer theory", have a quick look at Wikipedia:

1.2.13 Linguistic imperialism

For applied linguists, this term is associated with books like Linguistic Imperialism by Robert Phillipson
Resisting Linguistic Imperialism in English Teaching by Suresh Canagarajah and A. Suresh Canagrajah

Robert Phillipson's home page is here:
(There are some downloadable materials.)

Suresh Canagarajah' home page is here:
(The Blog is pretty interesting!)

See also Adrian Holliday's homepage

For a general introduction, see Wikipedia

A central theme of Phillipson's theory is the complex hegemonic processes which, he asserts, continue to sustain the pre-eminence of English in the world today. His book analyzes the British Council's use of rhetoric to promote English, and discusses key tenets of English applied linguistics and English-language-teaching methodology. These tenets hold that:

*English is best taught monolingually ("the monolingual fallacy");
*the ideal teacher is a native speaker ("the native-speaker fallacy");
*the earlier English is taught, the better the results ("the early-start fallacy");
*the more English is taught, the better the results ("the maximum-exposure fallacy");
*if other languages are used much, standards of English will drop ("the subtractive fallacy").

For more references concerning the sociopolitics of English Language Teaching, see

Articles on this topic is available on the web
Theaching English as a Missionary Language (TEML)
Its abstract is this:

Surveying the massive current project of teaching english as a missionary language (TEML), this article raises concerns about the scale and cultural politics of this work, as well as issues of trust and disclosure, and the implicit support it provides for furhtering the global spread of English. We discuss various responses to this work, from the Christian evangelical and Christian service positions, to the liberal agnostic, secular humanistic and critical pedagogica. Unless we engage in debate over the various moral projects tied up with ELT, we argue, educators will be unable to establish the grounds for our choices between missiononary, liberal or critical projects.

Personally, I see the spread of English as "Imperial" but not as "imperialistic." The latter term "imperialistic" is an adjective of "imperialism, " mostly a 19th century notion. The current globalization, according to "Empire" by Heart and Negri, cannot and should not be explained by this old notion, but by a new concept of "Empire." According to them "Empire is emerging today as the center that supports the globalization of productive networks and casts its widely inclusive net to try to envelop all power relations within its world order and yet at the same time it deploys a powerful police function against the new barbarians and the rebellious slaves who threaten its order. (20)"

Excerpts of the book are available at

You can of course purchase the book.

However, the entire text is available on the web (be careful, this is a huge PDF file).

The sequence of the book, Multitude is also a very interesting book.

I wrote a very short essay in this blog entitled "ESL Empire of, by and for Multitude." See if you're interested

I'm also interested the aspect of commodification of ELT. Here's my short English report:

For a critical view on Phillipson's new book, Linguistic Imperialism Continued, please read the Japanese article below.

1.2.14 Critical Discourse Analysis

A definition by Prof. Allan Luke is clear:

Critical discourse analysis is a contemporary approach to the study of language and discourses in social institutions. Drawing on poststructuralist discourse theory and critical linguistics, it focuses on how social relations, identity, knowledge and power are constructed through written and spoken texts in communities, schools and classrooms.

Prof. Luke's introduction to Theory and Practice in Critical Discourse Analysis has sections as follows and it is worth reading:

1. Language and Discourse in Contemporary Education
2. Poststructuralist and Postmodern Discourse Theory
3. Educational Applications of Discourse Analysis
4. Critical Discourse Analysis
5. Conclusion
Suggested Further Reading

The following is a portion of its conclusion:

Discourses constitute what Wittgenstein called "forms of life", ubiquitous ways of knowing, valuing and experiencing the world. They can be used for the assertion of power and knowledge and they can be used for purposes of resistance and critique. They are used in everyday local texts for building productive power and knowledge and for purposes of regulation and normalisation, for the development of new knowledge and power relations, and for hegemony. If we accept the postructuralist view of primacy of discourse, than critical discourse analysis is necessary for describing and interpreting, analysing and critiquing social life.

Critical discourse analysis provides an interdisciplinary analytic approach and a flexible metalanguage for the sociological analysis of texts and discourses. The emergence of critical discourse analysis has at least three interrelated implications for educational studies and the sociology of education. First, it marks out a retheorisation of educational practice. Educational theory and practice historically has relied on foundational metaphors of the unfolding child, the industrial machine, the individual rationalist mind, and, most recently, the digital computer. The metaphor offered by poststructuralism is that of the text as an interpretable phenomena that is constitutive of all educational and intellectual endeavour.

Second, critical discourse analysis marks out a new set of methodological techniques and possibilities. The assumption shared by many quantitative and qualitative approaches to sociological research has been that observable realities, truths and social facts have an essential existence prior to discourse. Critical discourse analysis begins from a recognition of language and discourse as non-transparent, opaque ways of studying and representing the world. It recasts all data and research artefacts as discourse. It raises and addresses the question of self-reflexivity by making researchers' own uses of discourse a key problematic in design and inquiry.

Third, critical discourse analysis marks out the grounds for rethinking pedagogical practices and outcomes as discourse. The assumption underlying many postwar curriculum development and instructional models is that the purpose of education is to produce behaviours, skills and competences required for industrial-era workplaces and civic spheres. Critical discourse analysis suggests that mastery of discourse is the principle educational process and outcome, and that this mastery can be normatively reshaped to introduce teachers and students to critical analyses of text-based, postmodern cultures and economies.

The Website of Teun A. van Dijk provides much of his research activities in critical discourse studies in downloadable styles. This is the way an academic website should be!

See also Prof. Norman Fairclough's website:

Wikipedia, as always, has an entry

Wikipedia says about the methodology of CDA as follows:

Although CDA is sometimes mistaken to represent a 'method' of discourse analysis, it is generally agreed upon that any explicit method in discourse studies, the humanities and social sciences may be used in CDA research, as long as it is able to adequately and relevantly produce insights into the way discourse reproduces (or resists) social and political inequality, power abuse or domination. That is, CDA does not limit its analysis to specific structures of text or talk, but systematically relates these to structures of the sociopolitical context.

An introduction by Prof. Brett Dellinger is also available

Check also the Wikipedia entry of Discourse analysis:

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