The Frankfurt School and International Relations: on the centrality of recognition
The works of Jürgen Habermas have amounted to an inspiration to many within IR. His writings on communicative rationality and communicative action are widely regarded as a useful counterpoint to the emphasis on instrumental rationality and strategic action. Also, Habermas has greatly influenced the development of Critical International Theory. However, as other contributions in this Forum demonstrate, IR scholars have at times found it difficult to apply Habermas to service their specific social scientific inquiries. In particular, it has been difficult to unequivocally locate communicative action in diplomatic exchanges or international negotiations. It is partly for this reason that the contributions of the so-called ‘Third Generation’ of Frankfurt School scholars have attracted increasing interest. Axel Honneth's attempts to reconstruct insights in relation to the struggle for recognition into a social theory (with critical intent) have to date been of particular importance in this context. Indeed, given the perceived difficulties in ‘applying’ Habermas, there appears to be an emerging trend to end the honeymoon with Habermas in favour of a reorientation toward Honneth.