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Human Affairs

Postdisciplinary Humanities & Social Sciences Quarterly

Editor-in-Chief: Višnovský, Emil

Ed. by Bianchi, Gabriel / Hrubec, Marek / Tartaglia, James

4 Issues per year

CiteScore 2016: 0.33

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2016: 0.172
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2016: 0.415

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Volume 26, Issue 2


Karl Mannheim on democratic interaction: Revisiting mass society theory

Ryusaku Yamada
Published Online: 2016-04-06 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/humaff-2016-0011


This essay re-considers Karl Mannheim’s notion of democratic behaviour in the context of mass society. Although the term ‘mass society’ seems archaic, it is still the precondition of democracy today. Mannheim conceptualized mass society as irrational, disintegrating Great Society and presented the remedy of Planning for Freedom to counter the crisis of mass democracy. In his remedy Mannheim advocated social education that fosters citizens’ democratic interaction, and the keywords of his education were ‘integrative behaviour’ and ‘creative tolerance’. The similar orientation of his remedy can be found in much more contemporary critiques of deliberative democracy. Iris Marion Young’s ‘communicative democracy’ was a version of her democratic interaction in a complex, large-scale mass society. Young’s notion of ‘reasonableness’ has substantial affinity with Mannheim’s integrative behaviour, both of which require the democratic attitude of hearing the other side and the readiness to self-transform. Mass society theory has relevance for contemporary democratic theory.

Key words: Karl Mannheim; mass society; democratic interaction; deliberative democracy; Iris Marion Young

An earlier version of this essay was presented at the Political Studies Association of the UK 65th Annual International Conference in Sheffield on April 1st 2015. This work was supported by the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (C) Number 15K03297. I am grateful to Valentina Jakubina, David Kettler, Hartmut Lenz, Jana Plichtova and Robert Sinclair for their helpful comments on the draft of this essay. I would like to thank Editage for English language editing


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About the article

Published Online: 2016-04-06

Published in Print: 2016-04-01

Citation Information: Human Affairs, Volume 26, Issue 2, Pages 93–103, ISSN (Online) 1337-401X, ISSN (Print) 1210-3055, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/humaff-2016-0011.

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