File spoon-archives/habermas.archive/habermas_2000/habermas.0003, message 6

Date: Wed, 24 Mar 1999 22:52:19 -0500
Subject: HAB: sluices and channels

A while ago, in a virtual world far away, someone (?), on this list, 
said that it would be nice to know of every passages where Habermas 
discusses of the sluice model in BFN. I myself agreed silently, since 
I find this metaphor quite intriguing. And we know that indexes, even 
carefully builded, can be incomplete. Well, recently I had to re-read 
the whole book (what an experience) for a seminar, and I paid 
attention to any manifestation of sluices. Since I re-read BFN in 
french, I had to find an english translation to transpose my 
"research" (so there might be other passages in the english version 
that the french translator wrote otherwise). The english version I 
found is the W. Rehg translation, 1996.

So here goes, to that anonymous inquiry, every bits and bites you can 
find about sluices in BFN:

- "sluices": p. 170 (line 3); p. 300 (line 14); p. 327 (line 21).

- "channels": pp. 264 (line 30); p. 442 (line 33).

- the most important passage is pp. 354 - 358, where Habermas 
discusses and criticizes Bernhard Peters' version of sluices 
(center-periphery democratic theory).

- At page 440, line 26, Habermas criticizes his own and antecedent 
image of the formal administration as a "besieged fortress" by the 
ongoing informal public sphere. Funny thing, he doesn't say a word 
there about the sluice model, but he does say that procedural law 
acts as a kind of (two-way) "legitimation filter", which is basically 
the same idea. The fortress image alluded to is in the appendix I, 
pp. 486 -487.

If anybody would like to discuss the sluice model, we've got all the 
references now (at least in BFN). For my part, I think it has the 
advantages of taking account the *process* of democratic changes, and 
to put weight on the fact that the administration concentrates 
rationality and power behind quasi-closed doors, in such a way though 
that it can't close the doors (without risking a profound 
legitimation crisis). But what I didn't yet inquire, is how and in 
what situation Habermas uses the sluice argument. On first hand, 
without going back to the passages, I'd venture that it's mostly to 
rebut the idea that communication power awaits to invade 
administration - the besieged fortress model. Or maybe to instill a 
grain of rationality in administration?

So that's it. Apologies for my english syntax.

Martin Blanchard
University of Montreal

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