Social Pathologies: Distinctive Features

  • Gustavo Pereira
Part of the Philosophy and Politics - Critical Explorations book series (PPCE, volume 9)


Social pathologies are presented as having four distinctive characteristics. Each of them is developed in different sections of this chapter.
  1. (a)

    Social pathologies are the effect of anonymous social processes, that is, they acquire a logic of their own that becomes independent of the participating agents, and therefore, it is not possible to attribute them to an agent or group of agents. Hence, social pathologies become independent from the agents that take part in it.

  2. (b)

    The second feature is the imposition of a type of practical rationality on a social space ruled by another type. This is so because there is a non-conscious transformation of the beliefs of the affected individuals who act in such a context, distorting the interpretation of its shared meaning.

  3. (c)

    The third one is the undermining of the agents’ autonomy, imagination and reflection. Undermining the imagination enables a type of rationality to be imposed on social spaces alien to it.

  4. (d)

    The fourth distinctive feature follows from the previous one, since one of the consequences of the weakening of imagination, autonomy and reflection is the stimulation of deceptive justifying processes, i.e., ideological processes.


Finally, I present “malinchism” as a particular case that illustrates social pathologies in the context of Latin American societies. Besides the undervalued self-image of Latin American people inherited from the Conquest and Colony that characterizes malinchism, it implies a methodological approach that can be projected to other specific cases equally affected by historical colonization.


Anonymity Distorted shared meaning Ideology Malinchism 


  1. Adorno, Theodor W. 1972. Beitrag zur Ideologienlehre. In Gesammelte Schriften 8, ed. I. Soziologische Schriften, 457–477. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
  2. Apel, Karl-Otto. 1993. How to Ground a Universalistic Ethics of Co-responsibility for the Effects of Collective Actions and Activities. Philosophica 52 (2): 9–29.Google Scholar
  3. ———. 1996. Types of Rationality Today: The Continuum of Reason Between Science and Ethics. In Selected Essays. Volume Two. Ethics and the Theory of Rationality, ed. Eduardo Mendieta, 137–173. Atlantic Highlands: Humanities Press.Google Scholar
  4. Arendt, Hannah. 1998. The Human Condition. Chicago: Chicago University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Barber, Benjamin. 2007. Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  6. Benhabib, Seyla. 2002. The Claims of Culture: Equality and Diversity in the Global Era. Princeton/Woodstock: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Boltanski, Luc. 2011. On Critique: A Sociology of Emancipation. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  8. Celikates, Robin. 2006. From Critical Social Theory to a Social Theory of Critique: On the Critique of Ideology After the Pragmatic Turn. Constellations 13 (1): 21–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Clark, David A. 2012. Adaptation, Poverty and Development Contents: They Dynamics of Subjective Well-Being. Houndmills/Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cohen, Gerald A. 1988. Freedom, Justice and Capitalism. In History, Labour and Freedom. Themes from Marx, 286–304. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  11. ———. 2008. Rescuing Justice and Equality. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. ———. 2014. The Workers and the Word: Why Marx Had the Right to Think He Was Right. In Lectures on the History of Moral and Political Philosophy, ed. Jonathan Wolff, 268–283. Princeton/Oxford: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Cortina, Adela. 2002. Por una ética del consumo. Madrid: Taurus.Google Scholar
  14. ———. 2017. Aporofobia, el rechazo al pobre. Barcelona: Paidós.Google Scholar
  15. Cortina, Adela, and Gustavo Pereira. 2009. Pobreza y libertad. Erradicar la pobreza desde el enfoque de las capacidades de Amartya Sen. Madrid: Tecnos.Google Scholar
  16. Echeverría, Bolívar. 1997. El dinero y el objeto del deseo. In Las ilusiones de la Modernidad, 74–82. México: UNAM-El equilibrista.Google Scholar
  17. Elster, Jon. 1983. Sour Grapes: Studies in the Subversion of Rationality. Paris/Cambridge: Maison des Sciences de l’Homme-Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. ———. 2000. Ulysses Unbound. Studies in Rationality, Precommitment, and Constraints. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. ———. 2007. Explaining Social Behavior: More nuts and bolts for the Social Sciences. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Martínez Estrada, Ezequiel. 1991 [1933]. Radiografía de la Pampa. Madrid: Archivo CSIC.Google Scholar
  21. Fló, Juan. 1967. La alienación ideológica. In Alcance y formas de la alienación, Juan Fló and Mario Sambarino, 61–95. Montevideo: Biblioteca de Cultura Universitaria.Google Scholar
  22. Forst, Rainer. 2002. Contexts of justice: Political Philosophy beyond Liberalism and Communitarianism. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  23. ———. 2015. Noumenal power. The Journal of Political Philosophy 23 (2): 111–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. ———. 2012. The right to justification: Elements of a constructivist theory of justice. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Gadamer, Hans Georg. 1989. Truth and Method. Second revised edition. Trans. Rev. Joel Weinsheimer and Donald G. Marshall. London/New York: Continuum.Google Scholar
  26. Geuss, Raymond. 1981. The Idea of a Critical Theory: Habermas and the Frankfurt School. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Habermas, Jürgen. 1987. The Theory of Communicative Action. Vol. 2. Lifeworld and System: A Critique of Functionalist Reason. Trans. Thomas McCarthy. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  28. ———. 1990a. Discursive Ethics: Notes on a Program of Philosophical Justification. In Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action. Trans. Christian Lenhardt and Shierry Weber Nicholsen, 43–115. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  29. ———. 1990b. Morality and Ethical Life: Does Hegel’s Critique of Kant Apply to Discourse Ethics? In Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action, 195–215. New York: Wiley .Google Scholar
  30. Honneth, Axel. 1995. The Struggle for Recognition: The Moral Grammar of Social Conflicts. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  31. ———. 2009. A Social Pathology of Reason: On the Intellectual Legacy of Critical Theory. Trans. James Ingram et al., 19–42. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  32. ———. 2014. Freedom’s Right: The Social Foundations of Democratic Life. Trans. Joseph Ganahl. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Horkheimer, Max, and Theodor W. Adorno. 2002. Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments. Trans. Edmund Jephcott. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Jaeggi, Rahel. 2009. Rethinking Ideology. In New Waves in Political Philosophy, ed. Boudewijn De Bruin and Christopher Zurn, 63–86. Houdmills/Basingstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Jonas, Hans. 1984. The Imperative of Responsibility: In Search of an Ethics for the Technological Age. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  36. Kahneman, Daniel. 2011. Thinking, Fast and Slow. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.Google Scholar
  37. Korsgaard, Christine. 1996. The Sources of Normativity. Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Leyva, Gustavo. 2017. Filosofía política en América Latina. In Filosofía iberoamericana del siglo XX, II. Filosofía práctica y Filosofía de la cultura. Enciclopedia Iberoamericana de Filosofía, ed. Manuel Reyes Mate, León Olivé, and Osvaldo Guariglia, vol. 33, 377–440. Madrid: Trotta.Google Scholar
  39. Lukács, Georg. 1971. Reification and the Consciousmess of the Proletariat. In History and Class Consciousness: Studies in Marxist Dialectics. Trans. Rodney Livingstone, 83–333. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  40. Mariátegui, José Carlos. 1970 [1928]. Siete ensayos de interpretación de la realidad peruana. Montevideo: Biblioteca de Marcha.Google Scholar
  41. Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. 1975. The German Ideology. Vol. 1, Critique of Modern German Philosophy According to its Representatives Feuerbach, B. Bauer and Stirner. In Marx/Engels Collected Works, Volume 5 Marx and Engels 1845–1847, 19–451.Google Scholar
  42. Modzelewski, Helena. 2013. Narrative as an Educational Factor for Human Development: A Case Study with Homeless Single Mothers in Uruguay. In Education, Economics and Development, ed. Suzanne Majhanovich and Macleans A. Geo-Jaja, 143–158. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.Google Scholar
  43. ———. 2017. Emociones, educación y democracia: una proyección de la teoría de las emociones de Martha Nussbaum. México: Instituto de Investigaciones Filosóficas-UNAM.Google Scholar
  44. Molyneux, Maxine. 2006. Mothers at the Service of the New Poverty Agenda: Progresa/Oportunidades, Mexico’s Conditional Transfer Programme. Social Policy & Administration 40 (4): 425–449.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Nielsen, Kai, and Robert Ware, eds. 1997. Exploitation. Atlantic Highlands: Humanities Press.Google Scholar
  46. Paz, Octavio. 1985. The Sons of La Malinche. In The Laberynth of Solitude and Other Writings. Trans. Lysander Kemp, Yara Milos, and Rschel Philips Belash, 65–88. New York: Grove Press.Google Scholar
  47. Pereira, Gustavo. 2013. Elements of a Critical Theory of Justice. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Pereira, Gustavo, and Andrea Vigorito, eds. 2010. Preferencias adaptativas: Entre deseos, frustración y logros. Montevideo: Fin de Siglo.Google Scholar
  49. Rawls, John. 1993. Political Liberalism. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  50. Rosa, Hartmut. 2013. Social Acceleration. A New Theory of Modernity. Columbia: Columbia University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. ———. 2014. Alienation and acceleration. Towards a critical theory of late-modern temporality. Copenhaguen: NSU Press.Google Scholar
  52. Sambarino, Mario. 1980. Identidad, tradición y autenticidad. Tres problemas de América Latina. Caracas: Centro de Estudios Latinoamericanos Rómulo Gallegos.Google Scholar
  53. Saviano, Roberto. 2007. Gomorrah: A Personal Journey into the Violent International Empire of Naples’ Organized Crime System. New York: Picador-Farrar, Strauss and Giroux.Google Scholar
  54. Shklar, Judith. 1990. The Faces of Injustice. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  55. Simmel, Georg. 2004. The Philosophy of Money. Trans. Tom Bottomore and David Frisby. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  56. Stanovich, Keith E. 2011. Rationality and the reflective mind. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  57. Sunstein, Cass R. 2003. Why Societies Need Dissent. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  58. Taylor, Charles. 1985. The politics of recognition. In Philosophical arguments, 225–256. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  59. Veraza, Jorge. 2008. Subsunción real del consumo al capital. Itaca: Dominación fisiológica y psicológica en la sociedad contemporánea.Google Scholar
  60. Villatoro, Pablo. 2005. Los programas de protección social asistencial en América Latina y sus impactos en las familias: algunas reflexiones. Políticas hacia las familias, protección e inclusión social. Santiago: CEPAL.Google Scholar
  61. Vohs, Kathleen D., Nicole L. Mead, and Miranda R. Goode. 2006. The Psychological Consequences of Money. Science 314 (5802): 1154–1156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Walzer, Michael. 1983. Spheres of Justice: A Defense of Pluralism and Equality. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  63. Weber, Max. 1978. Economy and Society: An Outline of Interpretive Sociology. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  64. ———. 2005. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. London/New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Zajonc, Robert B. 1968. Attitudinal Effects of Mere Exposure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 68 (1): 1–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. ———. 2001. Mere Exposure: A Gateway to the Subliminal. Currents Directions in Psychological Science 10 (6): 224–228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gustavo Pereira
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of HumanitiesUniversidad de la RepúblicaMontevideoUruguay

Personalised recommendations