Dialogic Politics and the Civilising Process

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Recent debates about Habermas's conception of dialogic politics have focused on whether its commitment to ethical universalism has an emancipatory potential or threatens the assimilation of non-liberal forms of life within exclusionary Western cultural frameworks. One way of contributing to this unfinished debate is to ask whether discourse ethics contributes to the modern ‘civilising process’, as Norbert Elias defined that term. All societies, according to Elias, have civilising processes or ways of trying to solve the problem of how persons can satisfy basic needs without ‘destroying, frustrating, demeaning or in other ways harming each other time and time again in their search for this satisfaction’. This formulation invites the question of whether or not the discourse theory of morality is the best available means of extending the civilising process in global politics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-154
Number of pages14
JournalReview of International Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2005


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