For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"New Directions for a Critical Theory of Work: Reading Honneth Through Deranty"

by Boston, Timothy (2018)


Axel Honneth?s theory of recognition has been criticised for presenting a deficient concept of work and the normative significance of work. In recent years Jean-Philippe Deranty, among others, has suggested that Honneth could overcome this deficiency by reintroducing into his mature theory the critical concept of work that first appeared in his 1977?1985 writings. My paper critically reconstructs and assesses Derantys position. I argue that Deranty has understated the extent to which his research direction diverges from Honneth?s. Rather than simply nuancing Honneth?s existing philosophical system, Deranty?s work exposes some of its conceptual limits and points beyond it.

Key Passage

Over the past decade Jean-Philippe Deranty, along with Nicholas Smith, Emmanuel Renault, Christophe Dejours and others, has proposed that the foundations of a more robust, critical conception of work already exist within Honneth’s corpus. Deranty proposes that the Marxian critique of alienation that Honneth sketched in his 1977–1985 writings, if supplemented with the results of recent empirical studies by Christophe Dejours in the psychodynamics of work, contains a kind of recognition specific to working activity that could be incorporated into Honneth’s mature system. This would compensate for what Deranty sees as the greatest deficiency in Honneth’s system, allowing Honneth to critically analyse not just how workers are remunerated or accorded social status, but what they actually do at work and under what kind of conditions. (p.111)


Axel Honneth, Deranty, Normative Significance Of Work, Critical Theory Of Work, Frankfurt School Of Social Research


On Honneth, Critical Theory of Work

Links to Reference



How to contribute.