Two Logics of Collective Action

By Claus Offe, Helmuth Wiesenthal

The article starts by criticizing the concept of “interest group” on the grounds that it creates a false equivalence between labor and employer organizations, thus dissimulating the asymmetries of power between labor and capital. It then analyzes how political forms shape interests and underlines a contradiction: whereas the institutions of liberal democracy underlie modes of thought and action that favor monologic rationality, the working class, because it is dominated in the class structure, needs dialogic modes of organization so as to arrive at its true interests. The distinction between dialogic and monologic modes of action leads to two levels of class conflict being revealed. The first level is the economic conflict within the existing political forms. The second level is the conflict about the political forms themselves.


  • Marxism
  • trade unionism
  • collective action
  • critique
  • participatory democracy
  • dialogical rationality
  • structuralism
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