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The Desire for Mutual Recognition is a work of accessible social theory that seeks to make visible the desire for authentic social connection, emanating from our social nature, that animates all human relationships.
Using a social-phenomenological method that illuminates rather than explains social life, Peter Gabel shows how the legacy of social alienation that we have inherited from prior generations envelops us in a milieu of a "fear of the other," a fear of each other. Yet because social reality is always co-constituted by the desire for authentic connection and genuine co-presence, social transformation always remains possible, and liberatory social movements are always emerging and providing us with a permanent source of hope. The great progressive social movements for workers' rights, civil rights, and women’s and gay liberation, generated their transformative power from their capacity to transcend the reciprocal isolation that otherwise separates us. These movements at their best actually realize our fundamental longing for mutual recognition, and for that very reason they can generate immense social change and bend the moral arc of the universe toward justice.
Gabel examines the struggle between desire and alienation as it unfolds across our social world, calling for a new social-spiritual activism that can go beyond the limitations of existing progressive theory and action, intentionally foster and sustain our capacity to heal what separates us, and inspire a new kind of social movement that can transform the world.