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Motstånd och kreativitet: George Herbert Meads bidrag till aktör-strukturdebatten
Örebro University, Department of Social and Political Sciences.
2004 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Resistance and creativity : George Herbert Mead's contribution to the agency-structure debate (English)
Abstract [en]

This dissertation is about the agency-structure debate. Different ways of comprehending the relationship between agency and structure constitute a watershed between theoretical approaches in sociology. On one side, we have the Weberian social definition paradigm. On the other, we have the Durkheimian social facts paradigm. My overriding focus is, however, not on theories that explain social reality in terms of either agency or structure. But rather, I focus on sociological theories whose aim is to integrate the two explanations or paradigms. How to integrate agency and structure in a satisfying way has become one of the central problems - perhaps even the most central - in social theory today. The vital question is how to create a theory that explains social reality by proceeding from both the notion of people doing things which affect the social relationships in which they are embedded (agency) and the idea of the social context moulding and forming social activity (structure). In the present dissertation, I examine George Herbert Mead's answer to the question by comparing his social pragmatism with the contemporary contributions to the agency-structure debate made by Anthony Giddens, Pierre Bourdieu and Jürgen Habermas. Often Mead has been erroneously associated primarily with a concern with agency, rejecting the importance of social structures. By discussing the revisionist, "social behavioristic" critique of Herbert Blumer's "symbolic interactionistic" interpretation my aim is to come to terms with such bias perspectives of Mead's views. His solution of the problem of agency and structure is based on two central ideas: 1) about the situated character of human action and 2) about the primary sociality of human action. I illustrate how Mead considers corporeal social structures of habitual responses to a certain stimuli as a precondition for experiencing inhibitions of the act or problematic social relations. The inhibited social act transforms our social behavior into social interaction where we get consciously aware of meaning and ourselves. He speaks of this as taking the attitude of the (generalized) other from which he means that self-reflexion arises. Giddens, Bourdieu and Habermas had intentions of exceeding the dualism between agency and structure by focusing on social practices. I argue, by emphasizing the importance Mead ascribed to the inhibited social act, his theory gives us better possibilities than the contemporary theories to solve the vital question.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm, Stehag: Brutus Östlings bokförlag Symposion , 2004. , p. 190
Series
Örebro Studies in Sociology, ISSN 1650-2531 ; 7
Keywords [en]
Sociologi, George Herbert Mead, agency-structure debate, Anthony Giddens, Pierre Bourdieu, Jürgen Habermas, the social definition paradigm, the social facts paradigm, social structures of habitual responses, attitude taking, the generalized other, self-reflexivity, sociologi
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-82ISBN: 91-7139-691-8 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-82DiVA, id: diva2:137317
Public defence
2004-11-12, Hörsal D, Örebro universitet, Örebro, 13:00
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2004-10-22 Created: 2004-10-22 Last updated: 2017-10-18Bibliographically approved

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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
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  • vancouver
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