Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Many theoretical programs, in a variety of fields and disciplines, have a critical component and can therefore be described, and indeed defined as “critical theory.” Among those various programs, however, the term also designates more specifically the tradition of critical social inquiry that was initiated at the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt in the 1920s. This first generation of critical theorists came to be represented by Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, and Walter Benjamin, the most famous of the philosophers associated with the institute. After World War II, the critical theory program was continued through the influential oeuvre of Jürgen Habermas, and more recently in the writings of Axel Honneth. These later developments are commonly labeled “second” and “third” generations of critical theory. Because of the initial location of the institute (which is also its current one), this program of critical social inquiry is also referred to as ...