When Time Met Inclination

by Mary Jackson (August 2012)

Jakob Norberg and Jürgen Habermas:

According to Habermas, bourgeois individuals are able to enter into novel kinds of relationships with one another in the coffeehouse because the links between family, civil society, and the state are restructured under capitalist conditions.


In Habermas's narrative, then, the success of the English coffeehouse as the primary organ of bourgeois political influence derives from its ability to portray itself as the site of a universal community. Those who in their free time gather in coffeehouses are integrated neither by power nor by economic interest, but by common sense. Yet this pretense is supported by restrictive admission policies: almost in passing, Habermas notes how the reputation of the coffeehouse as a space of sober rationality requires the exclusion of women. The coffeehouse remains a gendered space: humanity, it turns out, comprises coffee-drinking men.

Make mine hot and black.

A footnote to this piece suggests that coffee houses are not the quasi-monastic bastions of reason that Habermas implies:

Not those cleavages again. Make mine a large one.

Alistair Osborne:

Another day, another set of apologising bankers.

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