Marcuse and the Frankfurt School: Understanding the Function of Critique and His Critique of Society


critical theory
negative thinking
social change

How to Cite

Ladero, A. C. V. (2020). Marcuse and the Frankfurt School: Understanding the Function of Critique and His Critique of Society. SABTON: Multidisciplinary Research Journal, 2(1), 9-25. Retrieved from


This paper focuses on Herbert Marcuse’s notion of critique or negative thinking in relation to evoking possibilities for social change. This discussion is necessary since critique is indicative of Marcuse’s commitment to the possibility of radically transforming society. As Marcuse argues, time and again, the possibilities for social change and liberation remain open amidst the growing power and control of the capitalist system. It is here that I argue that Marcuse’s critique of advanced industrial society remains integral and relevant in understanding the contradictions seen today in several parts of contemporary society, which can be a starting point for evoking possibilities for social change today. But that secondly, I argue, echoing Marcuse, that critique has to be recovered as a necessary preliminary step for possibilities for social change to be evoked. Indeed, there must be a discussion on the existing intolerable conditions to expose the contradictions that signal the need for an alternative in the first place.



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