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Struggles for Recognition in the Democratic Constitutional State, Jurgen Habermas

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  1. Universalistic principles are at the core of the democratic constitutional State : how to articulate those principles with the recognition of collective identities ?
    1. The legal protection of collective identities comes into competition with the right to equal individual liberties
    2. The equal coexistence of majority and minority groups vs. the protection of endangered species
    3. Actualizing the democratic constitutional state
  2. The theory of constitutional patriotism
    1. Citizenship vs. national identity in the modern multicultural State
    2. Constitutional patriotism in the post-national State

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?

[...] According to Habermas, in constitutional democratic states, all that can be expected from the newcomers is their willingness to assimilate to the political culture of their new country, in other words, political socialization. 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. [...]


[...] According to Habermas, a liberal democratic State must ask immigrants to commit to its constitutional principles (political commitment) but cannot ask them to commit its dominant culture in exchange for their citizenship.This enables the coexistence of various cultural groups while favoring the development of a common feeling of belonging to a Nation. It protects the welcoming society from the danger of segmentation and disintegration while enabling immigrants or minority groups' members to keep their identities. B. Constitutional patriotism in the post-national State In other pieces, Habermas has extended the theory of constitutional patriotism to the today's de facto multicultural Europe. [...]

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