An Explorative Study of Application of Habermas's Critical Theory to the Social Work Practice : Focused on the Theory of Communicative Behaviors

하버마스 비판이론의 사회복지 실천에의 적용가능성에 관한 탐색적 연구: 의사소통행위이론을 중심으로

  • Published : 2006.11.30


The main purpose of this study is to examine the implications of Habermas's Critical Theory, which has been considered as modern descendant of enlightenment thought, on the social work profession. The focus of this paper is a critical examination on expected perceptual and practical gain provided by communicative theory for the professional relations between social workers and clients. This paper proves that Habermas's theory has failed to sufficiently grasp the scope and functions of social work practice. First, in regard to perceptual gains, Habermas's theory commits some kind of reductionism which considers communicative behaviors as only and original one. It is likely to limit the scope and extent of the function and mission of social work into a kind of communication performed by humans with communicative ability. Second, in regard of practical gains, Habermas's theory does not provide detail procedure of power-free communication nor critical criteria to evaluate the degree of ideal speech situation. Without these ones, Habermas's critical theory might play a role of liberal conservatism, which is trying to replace the substantial contents with procedural formality. In sum, to be a adequate theoretical and practical framework for social work, Habermas's theory needs to combine additional humanitarian considerations into communicative paradigm with more detail requirements and preconditions for ideal speech situations between professional and clients.


Habermas;critical theory;communicative behaviors;social work practice