Creativity of Action

Overview

Hans Joas is one of the foremost social theorists in Germany today. Based on Joas's celebrated study of George Herbert Mead, this work reevaluates the contribution of American pragmatism and European philosophical anthropology to theories of action in the social sciences. Joas also establishes direct ties between Mead's work and approaches drawn from German traditions of philosophical anthropology.

Joas argues for adding a third model of action to the two predominant models of ...

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Chicago, IL 1997 Trade paperback 2nd ed. Fair. Trade paperback (US). Glued binding. 336 p.

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Overview

Hans Joas is one of the foremost social theorists in Germany today. Based on Joas's celebrated study of George Herbert Mead, this work reevaluates the contribution of American pragmatism and European philosophical anthropology to theories of action in the social sciences. Joas also establishes direct ties between Mead's work and approaches drawn from German traditions of philosophical anthropology.

Joas argues for adding a third model of action to the two predominant models of rational and normative action--one that emphasizes the creative character of human action. This model encompasses the other two, allowing for a more comprehensive theory of action. Joas elaborates some implications of his model for theories of social movements and social change and for the status of action theory in sociology in the face of competition from theories advanced by Luhmann and Habermas.

The problem of action is of crucial importance in both sociology and philosophy, and this book--already widely debated in Germany--will add fresh impetus to the lively discussions current in the English-speaking world.

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Editorial Reviews

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"A masterful comprehensive rethinking of the theory of action that interweaves sociological and philosophical motifs. Joas sharply criticizes prevailing understandings of "rational" and "normatively oriented" concepts of action. He explores the fundamentals of a theory of creative action that draws its inspiration from the pragmatic investigations of John Dewey and George Herbert Mead, but systematically develops their insights in novel ways. The scope, insight, and lucidity of Joas's subtle argument are truly impressive. This is an exemplar of sociological imagination at its best." Richard J. Bernstein, New School for Social Research

"This is a most outstanding book: erudite, profound, and inclusive on a most important subject. A must for scholars in many fields." Amitai Etzioni, author of The Spirit of Community

"This deeply serious and intelligent book embodies sociological theorizing at its best. Joas tackles the most difficult theoretical, empirical, and moral questions of the day, and he comes up with answers that compel attention. The Creativity of Action is a refreshing antidote to the skepticism about social science theory that marks our age." Jeffrey Alexander, University of California Los Angeles

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226400440
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/1997
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 346
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction 1
1 The Emergence of the Theory of Action 7
1.1 The Beginnings: Parsons' Attempt at Synthesis 7
1.2 The Debate with Parsons: Rehistoricizing the Convergence Thesis 18
1.3 Economic and Social Action 34
1.4 Weber's Theory of Charisma and the Problem of Creativity 44
1.5 The Problem of the Emergence of a New Morality as the Underlying Theme in Durkheim's Work 49
1.6 Elements of the Philosophy of Life in the Work of Ferdinand Tonnies and George Simmel 65
2 Metaphors of Creativity 70
2.1 Expression 75
2.2 Production 85
2.3 Revolution 105
2.4 Life 116
2.5 Intelligence and Reconstruction 126
3 Situation - Corporeality - Sociality: The Fundamentals of a Theory of the Creativity of Action 145
3.1 A Non-Teleological Interpretation of the Intentionality of Action 148
3.2 The Constitution of the Body Schema 167
3.3 Primary Sociality 184
4 Creative Democracy 196
4.1 Creativity and Collective Action 199
4.2 Beyond Functionalism 209
4.3 Differentiation and Democratization: Perspectives for a Non-Functionalist Theory of Social Development 223
4.4 Creativity in the 'Postmodern' Age 244
Notes 259
Bibliography 296
Index of Names 319
Index of Subjects 327
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