Habermas And the Paradigm of Non-Verbal Communication: Analytical Reading

هابرماس ونموذج التواصل غير اللفظي قراءة تحليلية

Habermas et le paradigme de la communication non verbale : Lecture analytique

Amel Kacimi, Zohra Brik Latifa Naili

p. 679-697

Amel Kacimi, Zohra Brik Latifa Naili, « Habermas And the Paradigm of Non-Verbal Communication: Analytical Reading », Aleph, Vol 10 (3) | 2023, 679-697.

Amel Kacimi, Zohra Brik Latifa Naili, « Habermas And the Paradigm of Non-Verbal Communication: Analytical Reading », Aleph [], Vol 10 (3) | 2023, 11 May 2023, 30 September 2023. URL : https://aleph-alger2.edinum.org/8952

Communication is the mainstay of social relations between individuals in daily life, and due to its importance, the research sought to discuss the possibility of applying Habermas’ ideas about communication to the characteristics and forms of non-verbal communication, knowing that Habermas talked about the theory of communicative action in general. The research concluded that Habermas’ communicative theory is a theory based on philosophical and social premises that means the pattern of communication in general without diving into forms of communication, whether verbal or non-verbal, with the possibility of achieving understanding through non-verbal communication in its various forms.

يعتبر الاتصال عماد العلاقات الاجتماعية بين الافراد في الحياة اليومية ونظرا لأهميته سعى البحث لمناقشة إمكانية تطبيق أفكار هابرماس حول التواصل على خصائص واشكال التواصل غير اللفظي، مع العلم أن هابرماس تحدث عن نظرية الفعل التواصلي عامة. توصل البحث إلى أن نظرية هابرماس التواصلية هي نظرية قائمة على منطلقات فلسفية واجتماعية تعني نمط الاتصال عامة دون الغوص في اشكال التواصل إن كانت لفظية أو غير لفظية، مع إمكانية تحقيق التفاهم عن طريق الاتصال غير اللفظي بمختلف اشكاله.

La communication est le pilier des relations sociales entre les individus dans la vie quotidienne, et en raison de son importance, la recherche a cherché à discuter de la possibilité d’appliquer les idées de Habermas sur la communication aux caractéristiques et aux formes de non communication verbale, sachant que Habermas a parlé de la théorie de l’action communicative en général. La recherche a conclu que la théorie communicative de Habermas est une théorie fondée sur des prémisses philosophiques et sociales qui signifie le modèle de communication en général sans plonger dans des formes de communication, verbales ou non.verbale, avec la possibilité de parvenir à la compréhension par la communication non verbale sous ses diverses formes.


Communication is the basis of interconnection; it is an ideal mean of interaction and exchange of information or ideas between individuals in society. The human being is by nature communicative, either through languages or signs, as he cannot live alone, thus, communication is an inevitable action using spoken language or non-verbal indicative communication. The latter one has a great ability to influence and communicate what words are unable to express, as it may give a meaning or complete it. According to linguistics, semiotics, communication and anthropology, non-verbal communication does not contain any spoken language, so that most of them, especially the structuralisms, sought to subject the indicative or body movement communication to the rules on which oral communication is based.

In this context, Habermas , the philosopher and thinker presented his theory about the communicative action, in which he focused on that language (verbal or non-verbal) is a mean of dialogue, understanding and communication between individuals based on rational arguments, evidence and proofs that allow consensus and agreement according to rationality. That is why he talked about communicative rationality, as the communicative mind is the communicative activity.

In the light of this statement, the present article will discuss the nonverbal or indicative communicative paradigm according to Habermas’ communicative ideas. Starting by the cognitive backgrounds of the communication paradigm of Habermas, through which we will discuss the meaning of communication paradigm in Habermasian thought, and then we will present the conditions that govern the communicative activity on which is based his theory which is called the theory of communicative action. As well as the significance of non-verbal communication (its meanings and types).

Finally, we will analyze the paradigm of nonverbal communication in the thought of Habermas, who specified in his writings of communication philosophy that the individual always communicates mentally and logically because the communicative action requires awareness and a will to achieve it between selves (the ego and the other). Is this thesis available to nonverbal or indicative communication? Can we study the non-verbal communication paradigm based on Habermas theory of the communicative action?

In order to answer these and other questions, we divided the research into four main headings, after listing the methodological aspects of the study, which are as follows:

  • Cognitive backgrounds of Habermas communication paradigm.

  • The limits of significance and meaning in the paradigm of indicative communication.

  • The problematic of indicative communication paradigm according to Habermas communication theory.

1. Aspect méthodologiques

Before reviewing the different aspects around which the problematic developed in this article is articulated, it will not be superfluous to set out even briefly the methodological aspects that presided over its genesis. We will essentially present two aspects :

  • Importance and Objectives of Research: This research is of special importance because it examines the peculiarities of non-verbal communication, which is considered as one of the important contents, especially at the present time, where the individual is using it in his daily life in abundance. Connecting it to the Habermasian concept of communication to project his ideas on the characteristics of non-verbal communication. Among the objectives, that we sought to achieve is to clarify the theoretical contents and significations of non-verbal communication as an important topic that must be taken into consideration, and to show the relationship that connects the peculiarities of non-verbal communication to the philosophy of communication according to Habermas.

  • The scientific methodology: The appropriate scientific methodology is the descriptive-analytical method that allows us to analyze Habermas’ communicative ideas and to describe Forms of non-verbal communication, analyzing and interrogating their significance in view of Habermas’ philosophy of communication.

2. Cognitive backgrounds of the Habermas communication paradigm

Before we deal with the communication paradigm of Jürgen Habermas, we will talk about who Habermas is, and then we will review the sociological view of communication, through which we will show the reasons that made Habermas interested in the communicative action and the factors that helped him intellectually and philosophically.

2.1. Who is Jürgen Habermas Habermas

Habermas was born in 1929 in Gummersbach, near Düsseldorf, where his father was director of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. From 1949 to 1954, he was a student at the universities of Göttingen and Bonn. Habermas’s scientific and cultural formation began through his reading of books, especially Marxist-Leninist books, and his discoveries began in the world of modern art and literature. He learned about the expressionist trend in painting and read Thomas Mann, Franz Kafka and Albert Camus. His dream in high school was to become a journalist. (Awlad, translated by Muhammad Milad, Issue 24, April :12)

Habermas is considered as one of the most important and most widespread social theorists in the post-World War II ; he grew up in a middle-class German family that adapted to the Nazi regime without criticism and without active support. His own political views crystallized for the first time in 1945 at the age of sixteen when he joined the Hitler Youth movement. (Jordan translated by Ahmed Mohammed Al-Rubi, 2015). During his university studies, Habermas learned the works of the young Marx, with the help of his teacher Lovett, these works motivated him to develop his theses, as he read Lukachs book (History and Class Consciousness). It is worth noting that Habermas’ reading of the enlightenment debate motivated him to become preoccupied with the issue of rationality. This is why he has an intellectual position different from that of the representatives of Frankfurt First Generation School. At the suggestion of one of the officials in the newspaper in which he works, Habermas interviewed Adorno at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Frankfurt. Adorno offered Habermas to work as an assistant professor at the instite. (Al-Ainain, No. 5, May 1998 :58)

Habermas has been writing for nearly 50 years on very diverse topics, such as bioethics, genetic technology, terrorism, and American foreign policy after 9/11. He has a huge intellectual production, in addition to his fame as a social and political theorist. He is one of the most prominent thinkers in public affairs in Europe at present. He is the dean of the democratic left in Germany and the source of its inspiration. He expresses his critical opinions on German and European public affairs on matters of general cultural, moral and political importance (Jordon, translated by Ahmed Muhammad Al-Rubi, 2015).

2.2. The sociological view of communication

Human communication is of great importance in sociology, as a social phenomenon that has an impact on people, their social relations, the roles they play through them, and the social positions they occupy. (André Akoun, 1999 : s90)

Sociologists see that communication is a social phenomenon that has a role in the cohesion of society, and in building social relations, which shows that human society is based on a set of relationships whose foundation and basis is communication. In this field, Charles Cooley says that communication is that mechanism by which human relations exist and develop ; these relations include all mental symbols with their means of transmission through space, and their continuity in time. These symbols are represented in facial expressions, gestures, signs, and printing Telegraph and telephone. (Muchielli, 1991 :13)

This means that what unites the members of society is the reality of communication relations of its various types, verbal or non-verbal, which is a necessity of the social life process. In this regard as well, we find that both John Weaklad and Watzlawick consider communication “a permanent social process, which includes many actions and behaviours, speech, signs, looks, space and private reciprocal territory.” (Awda, 1998 :39) Communication is the mean that makes the general path of social existence Possible” (Page42, 2001), WINKIN).

Therefore, we can confirm the relationship that combines sociology with communication because sociology studies social phenomena that affect the means of communication within the social structure. Means of communication are as well one of the social phenomena that is studied and interpreted by sociology.

The social framework of communication deals with subjective and interactive issues in the communicative process between individuals and groups, which are crucial in determining the effectiveness of communication. Goffman in his study of communication started from interaction, by studying the communication behavior through social interaction between individuals. (WINKIN, 2001 page22.) In this regard, Habermas acknowledges the thanks of sociologists for crystallizing this new perspective on communication, saying, “The shift in perspective that moved from teleological to communicative action began with Mead and Durkham. They, along with Max Weber, belong to the generation of founders of modern sociology.” (, J. Habermas1987)

Sociology communication does not mean the transmission of messages from a sender to a receiver, but rather means the human and social relations resulting from the interaction between individuals. In addition to the placement of both the sender and the receiver in the social structure, so that the sociologist looks at communication as an element in a holistic pattern of continuous interactions, so sociological studies take into account the social and cultural variables in which communication occurs.

2.3. The main factors that contribute to the emergence of Habermas’s communicative ideas

The German philosopher Jürgen Habermas is considered one of the world’s leading philosophers and sociologist, he represents the second generation of the Frankfurt School of Criticism. His writings vary between philosophy, sociology and ethics, in addition to hundreds of research papers and articles published in major international journals and newspapers. Among the internationally known books and studies, we can mention : Philosophical and Political Features, Philosophical Discourse of Modernity, Ethics of Discussion, Right and Democracy, Republican Integration, Ethics Communication and The Theory of Communicative Action. The latter is the most important book in his philosophical project because it includes the efforts of Habermas in the sixties and seventies and it collects different philosophical, sociological, scientific and linguistic references.

The communication theory of Habermas is an actor theory that looks into the depth of consciousness and is the culmination of long debate in Germany in particular and Europe in general. Its roots are often difficult to explain philosophically from all its aspects. He relied on contemporary linguistic studies in order to found a theory of communicative action such as (John Austin) and (John Searle) in the theory of speech acts as he said : “...I owe all the deliberative and analytical disputes to the linguistic theory. ...the goal of mutual understanding is embedded in linguistic communication...

“ (Saoud : 105). Language represents the medium in which understanding is achieved. Here we can refer to Searle’s opinion that language is a performance of speech acts, when he says : Linguistic communication includes linguistic verbs, the units of linguistic communication are the production of the symbol, word or sentence in the performance of speech acts. (Ahmed Sayed, 1993 : 22). Accordingly, Habermas returned to the linguistic turn in the theory of communicative action 1981 in order to restore the modernist project, using the Universal pragmatic and its task “to prove the general conditions for a possible understanding and to reconstruct it.” (Baghora, 2005 :212)

Regarding the role of analytic trends in philosophy, and the pragmatic theory which imposed itself as a third dimension that complements the structure and the signification.

In this regard, Austin’s works contributed to revealing the pragmatic dimensions of language; thus, pragmatics turned into a new topic that pays great attention to extra-linguistic conditions related to context, understanding norms, and the intentions of the speakers. Habermas owes this topic to his interest in the philosophy of communication and his abandonment of epistemology and ideology. This openness to pragmatics was dictated by Habermas’ project to build rationality in contemporary society, which can not achieved without ensuring the conditions of understanding as it guarantees the success of daily communicative practice.

3. The limits of significance and meaning in the paradigm of non-verbal communication

It seems that communication is simple and ordinary because its determinants and its mechanisms are clear so we can summarize them in the following:

Image 100002010000028000000109B3134B68E919A56E.png

Communication in its normal form takes place between a sender and receiver through a communication channel, which is the same scheme that non-verbal communication can follow. Communication is a reciprocal and relational activity that occurs in various ways such as sounds, signs, images and languages that remains the highest form of communication. Based on this, the ethical nature of communication is presented in order to resurrect a certain ethics of communication, as long as the messages of communication exchanged between the sender and the receiver are not innocent messages, they can be a tool for conflict and quarrels” (Al-Mahdawi, 2012 : 277)

According to this definition, communication is types. It may be sounds, signs, or images that one sends to another. Therefore, non-verbal communication can be explained within two processes represented in processing information, i.e. receiving messages, decoding them, and interpreting their significance to form conclusions about the intentions of others. The last process is to manage the impression, by sending messages to influence others, or trying to understand them, one of which confirms the interpretation, and the other is concerned with influence. Verbal messages may be explicit and clear, but continuous movements such as rubbing hands are more expressive, and facial expressions convey information more than the body movements. (Druckman, 1982 :31).

The greater part of social interactions between individuals is through non-verbal communication such as gestures, looks, movements, dress, posture, gait, and facial expressions (Lazard, 1993 :56). Aberc ROMBIE said : “...we speak through the vocal organs, but we communicate through our whole body (Mignot, 1997 :143).

The multiple movements of the body during the interaction between individuals (movements, gestures, postures, distance and movement...), are rituals rooted in the emotional structure of individuals in spoken speech or the silence permeating a conversation. They are not at all neutral or indifferent, since they express moral behavior towards the world, and give speech and encounter a body that increases their significance. It is certain that this process also requires voice, rhythm, and diction (Breton, 2011). No part of the self that is speaking or silent escapes from emphasizing its emotional structure. We pay attention here to the movement and faith segment that embodies the relationship with other people.

In an article of the Russian linguist (A.A Reformastslaj) on the re-coding and transformation of communicative systems, he talks about the way in which the common life is organized, based on communicative actions in light of the various sign systems. Man and his relationship to non-verbal communication allowed modeling of communicative systems and even the process of thinking and confirms that verbal communication is never the result of simple coding of thought or re-encoding of information. (Menkherfis, 2020-2021 :111)

The obvious presence of others in interaction is not only the presence of speech, but first of all the presence of his body, his postures and his behavior, Merleau-Ponty says :

“It is said that the accurate recording of a conversation that seemed to us wonderful gives us the impression of its poverty. What it lacks is the presence of those who were speaking, movements, bodies and sensations of an event that flows in front of us and improvisation Ongoing”, (Merleau-Ponty, 1960 : 70),

Then, to understand communication, also means to understand the way in which the self contributes to it with its whole body and according to the mood of the moment.

In this field, psychologists believe that more than 75 percent of people’s actions are involuntary, and the rest is voluntary. Voluntary actions are often non-verbal, that is, through gestures and symbols, and they have a strong impact five times than the effect that spoken words leave. (Benchervis, 2020-2021 :110). Accordingly, non-verbal signs are characterized by being an extension of the self, and they are mostly unconscious and are considered indicators of human behavior. The significance of non-verbal elements such as body posture, dress, movements, unit of voice, signs, and gestures constitute the context in which the verbal message takes its meaning.

Non-verbal signs also have a function in conveying information related to people, such as social identity and cultural affiliation, this information is considered the main reference for social organization, because social relationships and structures cannot continue unless individuals are known through the social groups to which they belong. Body position, gestures, head nods, and the movements of hands constitute specific elements of a set of rules that govern our communicative behavior in social situations, and express our belonging to a particular group, as they inform others about our social status and role. (J. Cosnier, 1984 :86).

Nonverbal communication takes many forms and types ; we will try to explain some of them.

3.1. Silence

Silence is an integral part of communication, it is a basic and natural manifestation of it, and it is more common than we think. Effective communication is closely related to silence because people speak in turns, so some of them must be silent in order to listen to others. There are many types of silence, and each of them has its own significance. Silence of an angry and rebellious person, silence resulting from boredom, silence of the person thinking about what the other said, silence resulting from respect and appreciation for the other, dogmatic silence, which indicates that there is nothing to be said or added about the subject of discussion. Silence of pain and sadness, silence of a person who is attentive and fond of what he hears or sees, (Gail E. Myers :194, 1984), and this can be compared to the listening to a piece of music that calls for silence to enjoy it more.

Silence often helps to strengthen personal relationships between individuals, in cases where one of the parties prefers to remain silent, such as anger. Where silence acts as a guiding factor that allows avoiding aggravating the situation and complicating matters, or in the case of a need for calm and comfort to focus and think. Maintaining a good relationship requires respecting the other’s desire for silence, as any attempt to disturb provokes a negative response and leads to communication failure. In this regard, Myers says, “The semantic interpretation of any type of silence is necessary in communication ; we can reach it through our intelligent comprehension of some of the clues accompanying silence, including body position signals and facial gestures...” (Gail E. 1984 :195. Myers).Therefore silence can often be considered a purposeful communication style.

3.2 Vocal tones

Spoken language is always accompanied by tone in the voice, changes in tones and dialects, an emphasis on silence in some words, phrase cuts, etc… are not neutral because the factors that implicitly enter into communication between people are Similar to paralanguage or prosody. (Gail E. Myers, 1984 :197). The tone of voice plays a role in denoting the emotional state of individuals, as well as stopping during speech usually expresses a state of anxiety and insomnia, many studies have proven raising the voice is evidence of emotional activation and excitement. (J Consnier, 1984 :88)

On this basis, we can say that vocal tones are always present in everything we say, individuals may sometimes be unable to control what they say about the paralinguistic products.

3.3. Movements and signals

Signs are considered one of the oldest means of communication between humans before the emergence of spoken language. Signs may accompany or substitute language or speech, in order to convey some messages. Body speaks its own language, and it uses movements and signals that carry symbols to express it, which we decode automatically. It is necessary to accompany words with movements ; the body needs to determine the physical side of words, and it needs to landmarks in space.

Movements and signals

Movements and signals

According to image No. 01, we can note that the person used body movements to deliver certain messages, knowing that body language is the way that a person places his body depending on the situation, environment and context in which he tries to communicate with others. For instance, a person may cross his arms if he feels angry or stressed, this can be understood according to the prevailing culture in the society in which the person lives.

Movements are among the messages used in communication between humans, before spoken language. All cultures have semantic systems through movements ; the latter may accompany language or speech or act on their behalf in order to transmit some messages. In addition to facial expressions or gestures, our face and body move to expresses our feelings and emotions sometimes consciously, such as smiling or opening the eyes as an exclamation point. (Gail E. Myers, 1984 :198)

Observing and following-up of all movements and signals issued by individuals during the process of social interaction constitutes the focus for understanding the dynamics of communication, as well as the basic premise of Keynesian studies (Christian Baylon, 1997 :145). The said theory studies the sum of movements and behaviors that are transmitted naturally or culturally, it applies the techniques of structural linguistics to the system of movements and signals without separating them from verbal interactions. A new science has emerged that is concerned with non-verbal language and body language, named synergology, which is a discipline, based on scientific foundations that studies brain activities and the relationship of the subconscious to body expressions. Then the mentioned theory is interested in interpreting the various movements of the body, such as the squaring of hands and legs, head curves, and facial expressions.

In this regard, Monris says : Every social group has a system of signs, in which the rules seem less solid than the grammar, so that there is no universal rhetoric for non-verbal communication and our body remains the reference of all automatic indicative communication. (Christian Baylon, 1997 :143)



This image No. (02), which contains a group of symbols that suggest different communication messages, such as agreeing to an order or highlighting the features of joy, that is, the individual is hilarious and happy, knowing that what the above image contains simple icons created and given a communicative meaning by technology. These simple icons became the alternative option when the digital text is unable to make the meaning, structure and significance of the communicative action. According to Emile Durkheim, symbols are collective phenomena, meaning that they precede the existence of individuals and are accessible to all, as they are included in the behavior and actions of these individuals (Mr. Hafez Al-Aswad, 1991 :325.)

4. The Problematic of nonverbal communication paradigm according to Habermas’ ideas of communication theory

Habermas asserts that language and speech are subject to formal analysis and that anyone who acts in a communicative manner must perform any act of speech. Speaker must choose an understandable expression so that the listener understands it and must have an intention to communicate a truthful issue. The speaker should be sincere in his speech with the correct choice of expression.

Habermas confirms that there are indispensable conditions in the act of communication aimed at achieving understanding between individuals and selves, which govern the communicative activity, whether it is a verbal or non-verbal, they are as follows : (Al-Saud, 2004)

  • The communicative action is an interaction relationship between two or more selves in the living world therefore ; it is the right of any individual who has the ability to act, to dialogue and speech to participate in the communicative experience, if he declares recognition of the allegations or demands of honesty agreed upon between selves.

  • The process of communication takes place through language through which a relationship is established between the participants in the interaction and the outside world and between them and other selves. Language is the main mediator in communicative activity and through language, a kind of understanding is reached Using sentences and phrases.

  • The communicative experience aims to reach an agreement between the selves participating in the interaction, and this requires convergence of views.

  • Communicative activity or the communicative process must be hold within democratize dialogue.

  • The existence of conditions that guarantee a consensus that will not be reached except through the strength of the best thesis, therefore the strength of the argument and the evidence on which is based the communication.

  • To free communication from forms of pressure and domination of each party over the other and external oppression.

  • That each participant in the communication has the opportunity to defend his opinion without the control of an authority.

Therefore, communication, as depicted by Habermas, considers language in its pragmatic dimension. It means language in the moment of production and creativity. However, what is the reality and the content of this production ? Habermas answers sternly and briefly that it is understanding or conciliation and he agrees completely with “Wittgenstein” whose concepts of language and understanding are original, expressing the effort he made in this field. Most of the philosophers of language see in this merger between language and understanding shorthand of the contemporary linguistic phenomenon, (Hassan, 2012 :149)

The concept of communication in its raw form, from which the communicative action was inspired, is not isolated from a strategy that fits a certain level of linguistic, semantic and social development.

In the same context, the communication that Habermas talks about is “the communication that takes place between subjects through the primary medium, which is the language that plays a fundamental role in the communicative action. It forms a system of rules that help to generate expressions to the extent that every expression correctly formulated, is an element of language.” This communicative action is closely related to speech theory, and all symbolic issues and cultural components are concerned with solving communicative rationality. (Hassan, 2012 :133)

Contrary to what was done by instrumental rationality, which isolated social life and looked at things and individuals through control and regulation only” (Habermas, translation of Al-Jayoushi, 1995 :455). The communicative action is a non-instrumental act that aims to reach understanding that is not imposed by participants in the communication process, but rather refers to a justified agreement that is reached by a group of participants in the interaction and free discussion that ensures access to the moral order.

Goffman considers that social interactions constitute the social system, because they are based on certain rules and standards (Lazard, 1993 : 58), thus, the interaction process is not unilateral, but rather forms part of the interactive system. This means that the behavior of any individual is taken as part of a common set of actions and reactions, so understanding any communicative behavior requires rearranging it within the general system (Alex Muchielli, 1998)

Referring to the meaning of non-verbal communication, we find that there is an interaction between the sender and the receiver. We will try to discuss the possibility of projecting Habermas’ communicative ideas on the characteristics of non-verbal communication by presenting the stages of forming the communicative action of Habermas and its projection on the forms of non-verbal communication. For this reason, Habermas focuses on the postulate of analytic language, which shows that language should not be limited to rhetoric, but linked to expression and description.

This appears through daily language including signs and physical movements that need interpretation in order to make understang and agreement among the members of society. This means that nonverbal communication falls under the universality of language that Habermas focuses on his theory of the communicative action.” Habermas adds that the communicative action, according to him, passes through three important main stages, including the stage of interaction, which is mediated by symbols (Al-Muhammadawi, 2005 :187) and is based on two activities, the first is saying and the second is acting. Through the communicative code, that is saying a desire for behavior is expressed and through the intention to achieve this saying (acting) that desire is satisfied. The meaning of saying and acting determine each other. This reciprocity of meaning, interpersonal dialogue is formed. This means that the individual can communicate with other individuals through Gestures, for example, constitute a pattern of interpersonal communication where an individual can communicate through signs to other individuals using the language understood between them and between them and themselves.

Therefore, non-verbal communication can be explained within two processes of information that is receiving messages, decoding them, and interpreting their significance to form conclusions about the intentions of others. The last process is impression management, by sending messages to influence others, or trying to understand them, one of which confirms the interpretation and the other is concerned with influence. Verbal messages may be explicit and clear, but continuous movements such as rubbing hands are more expressive, and facial expressions convey more information than the body movements.

If we analyze the non-verbal signs or Non-verbal communication, such as eye or body language we find that it fits Habermas’ proposition, expressing madness by bringing the index finger close to the head in many cultures mean to the Dutch super intelligence. The sign that in America expresses acceptance and contentment, and the elaborate work of forming a ring with the thumb and forefinger, denotes in Japan a circular coin and for France, it means zero, or something that has no value. In this communication a kind of symbol that produces interaction and understanding in a context where it was produced.

We can also point out that Habermas believes that ordinary language allows the creation of a dialogue relationship between people and the expression of the individual and the private depending on general elements. Therefore, the interpretive understanding must use this structure that is based on the adaptation of daily communicative experience and understanding between the self and the other, which means the language used in the ordinary way that constitutes dialogue and which is subject to interpretation or not.

From all of the above, it is clear that the communicative language, whether verbal or non-verbal, represents a basic pillar in the act of communication. Without it, there is no communication between individuals ; because language is a mean of transmitting thoughts and feelings, the act of communication represents a tool for the harmony and consistency of social actions, and contributes to liberating human consciousness from all forms of domination. We must also refer to the fondations of communication, which in turn refer to general principles. If these principles are achieved, they indicate the existence of real interaction between the members of society, and if the participants fail to achieve these foundations, this will lead to a lack of communication. Among the most important concepts of these foundations, Habermas refers to three :

  1. First : The rationality of communication : refers to a rational possibility that is inherent in the linguistic practices of the participants in the act of communication. In the scope of daily communication that is related to truth and sincerity. Habermas concluded that the concept of rationality of communication is based on the relationship between speech acts as the smallest unit of everyday communication, and the different types of truth that are related to achieving agreement between participants in the act of communication. He pointed out that the task of rational communication is focused on transforming irrational images and shapes into rational. They also contribute to achieving fruitful communication between the participants in the act of communication (Cook, 1994 :16). This means that the individual who communicates in non-verbal language communicates with an understandable rationality between the two sides of communication, for example, the mother who communicates with her daughter through signs and symbols, however, both individuals (mother and daughter) use rationalityto adapt their behavior.

  2. Second : Communicative competence : Habermas defines communicative competence as the occurrence of communication according to the basic system of rules that adults understand, and to the extent that they can achieve the conditions conducive to the appropriate employment of sentences in their expressions, regardless of the incidental contexts surrounding the expression. Communicative competence is determined by the understanding and ingenuity of the speakers, regardless of the actual limitations, it is the communicative effectiveness that makes mutual understanding possible between the selves participating in the dialogue. (Al-Ainain, No. 5, May 1998 : 72), in this regard we can refer to the pattern of communication using the language of music or sound, where the individual uses it effectively and with a mutual understanding between him and the second party of the communicative process. The absence of this fact makes communication nonexistent and incomprehensible.

  3. Third : Misleading communication : The communication does not succeed in achieving the conditions of the ideal conversation. That is, the inability to achieve a free and rational consensus in the communication process because of this process being subject to hegemony and control, whether it is ideological or psychological domination. Distorted communication is a false communication in which the participants feel disconnected, and leads to undetectable mutual misunderstand, because the participants believe they are reaching a consensus. Habermas linked the phenomenon of distorted communication with Freud’s psychoanalytic phenomenon. All pathological phenomena that Freud analyzed are the result of a communication disorder in a person’s communication with his society, for example, repression is the removal of certain motives from expressing themselves in the form of interaction. Dream in which irrational actions appear represents vague symbols of the place to which elements excluded from the field of communication withdraw, such as instincts and aggressive tendencies. (Razzaq, 2021)


Finally, we can say that Habermas’ communicative theory is a theory based on philosophical and social premises related to the pattern of communication in general whether verbal or nonverbal. It means that Habermas when he said that the communicative action through which participants interact, and use language as a mean of understanding and interpreting mutual situations, as well as the interpretation of personal goals and objectives, he focuses on communication in general. Despite the use of signs and movements in the communication process, so that this communicative action is more rational than any other act. This communicative action makes the interaction fragmented and harmonious, and plays a pivotal role in the formation of personal identities, and through it language is used as an effective means in understanding and interpreting mutual situations, and interpreting personal goals and objectives.

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Amel Kacimi

University of Algiers 3

Zohra Brik

University of Algiers 3

Latifa Naili

University of Algiers 3

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