Born Free in an Unfree World

A Five-Level Emancipatory Program
  • Jeremy K. H. Chia
  • John C. Oliga
  • Annies L. F. Foong


Modernity, postmodernity, and beyond (who knows?) are phases of a socially constructed reality, the narratives of which continue unfolding in higher and higher levels of complexity and hostility, as manifested in faster and faster speeds of change. Focussing on contemporary societies, we can discern two distinctive problems. The first relates to a materially conceived world characterized by increasing systemic hypercomplexity, but fraught with the danger of coercive use of power. The second relates to a symbolic world of communicative interaction, but similarly fraught with dangers of strategic deception or ideological distortion or obfuscation. It is through the medium of power (whether in the form of money, or bureaucratic power) that actions for the material reproduction of societies become coordinated for system integration. But there lies the danger of dominative use of power. The problem of coordinating social actions for the symbolic reproduction of society points to the need for social integration through the medium of consensus making via symbolic processes of communication. But again, there lie dangers and problems of deception, distortion or obfuscation. In this chapter we seek to provide an outline of the very daunting task of an emancipatory programme at five levels of recursion, from the most general, lowest resolution level of Habermas’s (1972; 1974) interest constitution theory, namely, the Technical, the Practical, and the Emancipatory interests (the TPE model), through Oliga’s (1996) Power, Ideology, and Control (the PIC model) to Chia’s(1996) three models of the emancipatory task, namely, the Beliefs, Ethics, and Trust (the BET model), the Resources, Vision, and Goals (the RVG model), and the Jobs, People, and Freedom (the JPF model). In a nutshell, the chapter points to an unfortunate situation where individuals are born in this world free and anonymous, but that as this cloak of anonymity is progressively shed, shackles of unfreedom get fastened tighter and tighter.


Communicative Interaction Human Interest Validity Claim Critical System Thinking Recursion Level 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeremy K. H. Chia
    • 1
  • John C. Oliga
    • 2
  • Annies L. F. Foong
    • 2
  1. 1.Utopia Aire Pte Ltd.SingaporeRepublic of Singapore
  2. 2.Commerce DepartmentThe University of Papua New GuineaNational Capital DistrictPapua New Guinea

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