On the sociogenesis of norms

Franz Ofner, retired professor at University of Klagenfurt, Austria (also known as Alpen-Adria-Universität), sociologist, Member of our Institute, did research on the emergence of norms following George Herbert Mead (see here) and Jürgen Habermas. His latest article has been published in Österreichische Zeitschrift für Soziologie, volume 46, supplement issue 1, pages 43–70 (2022).

Franz Ofner | On the sociogenesis of norms following George Herbert Mead and Jürgen Habermas (in German) | link

Read Ofner’s abstract:

My intention with this article is to explore the potential inherent in the approaches of Mead and Habermas to conceptualize the sociogenesis of normativity. Mead deals with the development of symbolically mediated interaction and the formation of self-consciousness through the internalization of the normative order of a society. Habermas extends Mead’s approach with a conception of communication oriented to reaching understanding and normatively guided action and explains the social authority of norms with the help of Durkheim’s sociology of religion. However, analysis of the two approaches shows that neither author adopts a sociogenetic perspective on the emergence of normativity. Mead presupposes the existence of a normative order as given to explain the formation of self-consciousness. Habermas does not address how communication oriented to reaching understanding emerged in social processes. After critically examining the two authors, I propose a sociogenetic conception that can be used to describe the joint formation of norms, speech oriented to reaching understanding, and self-conscious individuals in the context of the development of cooperative activities.

This research ties in with current (Information Ethics, Origin of Systens Thinking) and past GSIS project endeavours (Emergent Transformation).

A copy is available for personal use only by request (go to “Author information” and click on “Correspondence to Franz Ofner”).


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