In contemporary critical theory we find an increasing effort to combine democratic thinking, the private sphere, and the social relationships normally created in its midst - designated as "personal", "affective" or "intimate relationships". They are no longer thought as residual concepts of democratic theory and begin to be investigated as fundamental areas of the wider processes of social democratization, in which we would find forms of interaction related to the genesis of identity and of individual life projects, and embryonic moments of collective will creation. Such efforts seem, however, plagued by significant difficulties when dealing either the scope of social relationships of a non-public nature, or the ability to have their specificities embraced by traditional categories of democratic thinking. Among the second problem mentioned, we highlight the almost complete inexistence of adequate categories for the criticism of internal barriers to the democratization of personal environments. Based on Jürgen Habermas's analysis of Faktizität und Geltung, and Alex Honneth's new book, Das Recht der Freiheit, we argue that these authors are unable to overcome completely what Seyla Benhabib calls the "idealizing view of intimacy". The research proposes a study of the ways that critical theory has been working with the relationships between social democratization and the concepts of both private and personal relationships, in order to outline the existence of alternative concepts, its contrasts and its possible complementarities.
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