Instrumental mutuality of rationally motivated conviction, assure themselves

 Instrumental rationality and strategic action
are used interchangeably as they are both oriented to the similar situation and
can be judged from the perspective of efficiency. According to Habermas,
instrumental rationality is oriented to a situation where individuals use
actions to achieve their desires in an oppressive manner. That is “… getting
other people to do things as means of realizing one’s own ends” (Finlayson,
2005, p. 48). Instrumental rationality is oriented to actions in a state
achieved through labour. For example, in a market situation where efficiency is
linked to profit. Similarly “… in strategic action, one person can simply seek
to manipulate another, without the second person necessarily understand what is
going on, or consenting to it” (Edgar, 2006, p. 22). Furthermore, Habermas
emphasizes that strategic action oriented to success and more unilateral
thinking while action oriented to subjects


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In contrast to instrumental rationality,
communicative rationality is more aligned with understanding the nature of
society, and it is the ideal form of communication that should be maintained in
society.  Habermas notes that:

The concept of communicative
rationality carries with it connotations based ultimately on the central
experience of the unconstrained, unifying, consensus-bringing force of
argumentative speech, in which participants overcome their merely subjective
views and, owing to the mutuality of rationally motivated conviction, assure
themselves of both the unity of the objective world and the intersubjectivity
of their lifeworld (Habermas, 1984, p. 10).

such, Habermas identifies speech as necessary for coordination for the process
of communicative action. As Habermas explains, communicative rationality is
interactional and dialogical, and seeks to achieve mutual understanding so as
to arrive at an agreement or consensus. In this way, the notion of rationality
is shifted from the individual standpoint to the social standpoint (Brand,
1990; Kim, & Holter, 1995). Furthermore, Habermas believes that
communicative rationality can be formulated from merging “the realist’s
goal-directed perspective with the phenomenologist’s meaningful action
perspective” (Kim, & Holter, 1995, p. 212). Habermas emphasizes that in
order to reach understanding, the use of language or non-verbal expression is
required to coordinate an individual’s action (Brand, 1990). Given this,
communication between individuals can be distorted or undistorted

and undistorted communication

Communication between individuals
can either be seen as undistorted or distorted. Undistorted communication
involves a situation where everyone is provided with the right to speak,
according to Habermas, through discourse people reach a consensus and people
are able to develop common understanding (Finlayson, 2005). However, Edgar
(2006) points out that discourse might either ends or be avoided through the
exercise of power” (p. 43). Furthermore, Adam and Sydie (2002) state that
undistorted communication are “…the condition under which social goals and
values can be discussed on a rational, egalitarian basis so that a consensus
can be reached on the ends and values to be pursued” (p. 77). As the author
explains undistorted communication forms the foundation for emancipatory
practice. In contrast, systematically distorted communication occurs when the
conditions of undistorted communications are not met (Adms, & Sydie, 2002;
Edgar, 2006). For example, when government exercises power over vulnerable
citizens, the unequal power between the citizens and government creates a
situation that facilitates systematically distorted communication (Finlayson,

Habermas holds that communicative
practice cannot be sustained in such an environment. Thus, the success of all
activities or actions in the real world depend on the capacity to reach
consensus (Finlayson, 2005). It is therefore important for society to provide a
situation that promote undistorted communication. Furthermore Hbermas also
discusses the concepts of system and life worl where communication and
interaction takes place.The term lifeworld involves the day-to-day collective
shared information within society, and its linked concepts include those of
culture, society, and personality. In contrast, the concept of system is more
concerned with state affairs and the economy (Brand, 1990; Finlayson, 2005).


The idea of lifeworld is concerned
with everyday interactivities shared by humans, and includes the individual,
family, culture, society, informal interactions, and unorganized political
activities (Brand, 1990; Finlayson, 2005). In this context, Brand (1990)
describes society as “…the legitimate orders through which participants (in
communication) regulate their memberships in social groups and thereby secure
solidarity.” (p. 35). Culture is described as “…the stock of knowledge which
provides those who seek shared understanding about something with
interpretations” (p.35). Personality stands for those capabilities that enable
people to speak and act in order to participate in the process of reaching
understanding and ultimately asserting their own identity (Brand, 1990). In
addition to this, Finlayson (2005) states that lifeworld “…is the informal and
unmarketized domain of social life…” (p. 52) and it is the medium through which
practical, scientific and moral knowledge is transmitted and advanced
(Finlayson, 2005). With respect to arriving at mutual understanding in
communicative practice, Habermas emphasizes the importance of achieving
consensus. He contends that:

Subjects acting communicatively
always come to an understanding in the horizon of a lifeworld. In their
interpretive accomplishments, the members of a communication community
demarcate the objective world and their intersubjectively shared social world
from subjective worlds of individuals and (other) collectives. (Habermas, 1984,
p. 80).