Seyla Benhabib: Communicating with the Concrete Other

Johanna Fawkes

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionarypeer-review


Benhabib reframes the question of whether civil society can accommodate the conflicting demands of cultural, ethnic, and gendered identities. While these are often presented as incommensurable, she argues that discourse theory provides a foundation for negotiating paths through and beyond such conflicts. Her oeuvre forensically maps the territories of individual and collective self-knowing and self-organisation, finding fissures and harmonies between these tectonic plates of human experience. Communication is the agent for creating possible futures. She has described her central concern as “how to reconcile universalistic principles of human rights, autonomy, and freedom with our concrete identity as members of certain human communities divided by language, by ethnicity, by religion.” This constitutes one of the most ‘wicked ’problems facing contemporary society, using the term wicked to indicate intractability. Engaging with such foundational concepts requires a moral clarity—even bravery—that is evident throughout her work. While earlier texts look to social justice to reconcile demands for individual self-expression with those for social stability, later works explore cosmopolitanism under increasing duress.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAn Encyclopedia of Communication Ethics
Subtitle of host publicationGoods in Contention
EditorsRonald C. Arnett, Annette M. Holba, Susan Mancino
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherPeter Lang Ltd
Number of pages5
ISBN (Electronic)9781433152450, 9781433152467
ISBN (Print)9781433152436, 1433152436, 9781433152443
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2018


Dive into the research topics of 'Seyla Benhabib: Communicating with the Concrete Other'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this