Keywords: Frankfurt School; Habermas; Contradictions; Crises; European Integration; Intellectual Trajectory.
In this conversation with Laszlo Bruszt, sociologist Claus Offe discusses the key moments of his personal intellectual education and the main aspects of his scientific work. Starting from a peculiar interest in musicology, Offe reconverts to social sciences in the 1960s while getting involved in students activism with the "German Socialist Students" (SDS) and later becoming teaching assistant under the supervision of the young Habermas. Retracing his intellectual trajectory from the early works on education and democracy, it is possible to pinpoint the specific critical sociological route elaborated by Offe focussing on the macro-sociological analysis of systemic contradictions and crises reciprocally affecting contemporary capitalism and democracy. This perspective is then particularly suited to discuss one of the most salient political problems of our time like the crisis of the European political union and the possible reforms for its internal democratization, with an emphasis on its capability to attain integration through social justice. The interview concludes with a critical rediscovery of the arguments of the "Ventotene Manifesto" to overcome the key challenges hindering the realization of the European project.