From the ‘I’ to the ‘We’: Discourse ethics, identity and the pragmatics of partnership in the west of Scotland

Darryl Gunson, Charles Collins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


In Habermas's formal-pragmatic theory of discourse a rational (emancipated) society will be one which tends towards institutionalizing procedures characteristic of an ideal speech situation. Particular strategic interests are to be subsumed, for the purposes of rational discussion of social ends, in a larger process of rational will formation. This involves a movement from the I or the Us of the particular individual or group interest, to the we of the general interest. The problem of institutionalizing the procedures which are to facilitate such a movement raises two sets of questions. The first is to do with formal procedures and invites us to “measure the gap” between the ideal and the actual. However, the problem of institutionalization requires also that we explain this outcome, and seek to identify obstacles to the desired movement. This second question of explanation raises issues to do with the social identities of participants in the process. This paper seeks to address both of these questions in the context of one, at least apparent, attempt to institutionalize procedures similar to those advocated by Habermas in our locality.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Pages (from-to)278-300
Number of pages22
JournalCommunication Theory
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


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