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From Habits to Social Structures

Pragmatism and Contemporary Social Theory


Antti Juhani Gronow

Pragmatism has experienced a renaissance in social theory in recent years. This is no wonder since the so-called classical pragmatists, especially John Dewey and George Herbert Mead, outlined a highly original theory of social life. This book builds on pragmatist ideas and argues that social structures are first and foremost based on habitualized action. Thus, the insights of Dewey and Mead have profound implications for the way in which we think about many of the fundamental issues in social theory. These insights are discussed, for example, in relation to contemporary debates on the nature of intersubjectivity, institutions, the public and Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of habitus. The book shows that pragmatism offers a naturalist, action-centered way of conceptualizing culture and social structures.