Critical Theory in communication is most often cited in reference to philosophy with assosciations which have the intent to find underlying intentions and effects of a media. These effects could be in the communication of government, advertising, propaganda, culture, or technology. Presently, a combined philosophical approach has been the foremost idea bracing the theory which was introduced by Habermas called "pluralism" which combined the practical and theoretical approaches and argued that
"Habermas accepts that various theories and methods each have “a relative legitimacy.” Indeed, like Dewey he goes so far as to argue that the logic of social explanation is pluralistic and elides the “apparatus of general theories.” In the absence of any such general theories, the most fruitful approach to social scientific knowledge is to bring all the various methods and theories into relation to each other: “Whereas the natural and the cultural or hermeneutic sciences are capable of living in mutually indifferent, albeit more hostile than peaceful coexistence, the social sciences must bear the tension of divergent approaches under one roof …” (Habermas 1988, 3). In The Theory of Communicative Action, Habermas casts critical social theory in a similar pluralistic, yet unifying way. In discussing various accounts of societal modernization, for example, Habermas argues that the main existing theories have their own “particular legitimacy” as developed lines of empirical research, and that Critical Theory takes on the task of critically unifying the various theories and their heterogeneous methods and presuppositions. “Critical Theory does not relate to established lines of research as a competitor; rather, starting from its concept of the rise of modern societies, it attempts to explain the specific limitations and relative rights of those approaches” (Habermas 1987, 375)."
However, as Critical theory is applied to social structures, it takes on it's practical application and actually offers the users an opportunity to put it to use. Some of the questions a person using the critical theory may ask include
" What is a distinctively critical theory of globalization that aims at such a form of practical knowledge?
How might such a theory contribute to wishes and struggles of the age, now that such problematic situations are transnational and even global?
What normative standards can critics appeal to, if not those immanent in liberalism?

(But, this) criticism is thus not only based on the moral and cognitive distance created by relating and crossing various perspectives; it also has a practical goal. It seeks to expand each normative perspective in dialogical reflection and in this way make human beings more aware of the circumstances that restrict their freedom and inhibit the full, public use of their practical knowledge."

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/critical-theory/