Contemporary articles citing Joas H (1996) Creativity Action
action, cultural, empirical, actors, concept, role, sociological, approach, change, order
- Lizardo, Omar & Sara Skiles. 2012. "Reconceptualizing and Theorizing ``omnivorousness'': Genetic and Relational Mechanisms." Sociological Theory. 30:4 263-282.
- Scores of sociological studies have provided evidence for the association between broad cultural taste, or omnivorousness, and various status characteristics, such as education, occupation, and age. Nevertheless, the literature lacks a consistent theoretical foundation with which to understand and organize these empirical findings. In this article, we offer such a framework, suggesting that a mechanism-based approach is helpful for examination of the origins of the omnivore-univore taste pattern as well as its class-based distribution. We reground the discussion of this phenomenon in Distinction (Bourdieu 1984), conceptualizing omnivorous taste as a transposable form of the aesthetic disposition available most readily to individuals who convert early aesthetic training into high cultural capital occupational trajectories. After outlining the genetic mechanisms that link the aesthetic disposition to early socialization trajectories, we identify two relational mechanisms that modulate its manifestation (either enhancing or inhibiting it) after early socialization.
- Silver, Daniel. 2011. "The Moodiness of Action." Sociological Theory. 29:3 199-222.
- This article argues that the concept of moodiness provides significant resources for developing a more robust pragmatist theory of action. Building on current conceptualizations of agency as effort by relational sociologists, it turns to the early work of Talcott Parsons to outline the theoretical presuppositions and antinomies endemic to any such conception; William James and John Dewey provide an alternative conception of effort as a contingent rather than fundamental form of agency. The article then proposes a way forward to a nonvoluntarist theory of action by introducing the notion of moodiness, highlighting how the concept permits a richer conceptualization of actors' prereflexive involvement in and relatedness to nonneutral, demanding situations. Effort is reconceptualized as a moment in a broader process of action, where the mood is fragile and problematical. Finally, the article draws all of these elements together in an outline of a unified portrait of the pragmatist action cycle that includes both creativity and moodiness as essential moments.
- Jansen, Robert. 2011. "Populist Mobilization: a New Theoretical Approach to Populism." Sociological Theory. 29:2 75-96.
- Sociology has long shied away from the problem of populism. This may be due to suspicion about the concept or uncertainty about how to fit populist cases into broader comparative matrices. Such caution is warranted: the existing interdisciplinary literature has been plagued by conceptual confusion and disagreement. But given the recent resurgence of populist politics in Latin America and elsewhere, sociology can no longer afford to sidestep such analytical challenges. This article moves toward a political sociology of populism by identifying past theoretical deficiencies and proposing a new, practice-based approach that is not beholden to pejorative common sense understandings. This approach conceptualizes populism as a mode of political practice-as populist mobilization. Its utility is demonstrated through an application to mid-twentieth-century Latin American politics. The article concludes by sketching an agenda for future research on populist mobilization in Latin America and beyond.
- Archer, Margaret. 2010. "Routine, Reflexivity, and Realism." Sociological Theory. 28:3 272-303.
- Many scholars continue to accord routine action a central role in social theory and defend the continuing relevance of Bourdieu's habitus. Simultaneously, most recognize the importance of reflexivity. In this article, I consider three versions of the effort to render these concepts compatible, which I term ``empirical combination,'' ``hybridization,'' and ``ontological and theoretical reconciliation.'' None of the efforts is ultimately successful in analytical terms. Moreover, I argue on empirical grounds that the relevance of habitus began to decrease toward the end of the 20th century, given major changes in the structures of the advanced capitalist democracies. In these circumstances, habitual forms prove incapable of providing guidelines for people's lives and, thus, make reflexivity imperative. I conclude by arguing that even the reproduction of natal background is a reflexive activity today and that the mode most favorable to producing it-what I call ``communicative reflexivity''-is becoming harder to sustain.
- Gould, Mark. 2009. "Culture, Personality, and Emotion in George Herbert Mead: a Critique of Empiricism in Cultural Sociology." Sociological Theory. 27:4 435-448.
- Focusing on Mind, Self and Society, I contend that George Herbert Mead's theory is incapable of explaining the interactions in a song by Oscar Brown Jr., ``The Snake,'' and that a satisfactory explanation of these actions, which illuminate everyday conduct familiar to us all, requires the conceptualization of personality systems grounded in affect and cultural systems understood as symbolic logics that make intelligible certain activities. My argument is important not primarily as a critique of Mead, but of rational-choice and other cognitive theories that reduce emotions to cognitions, and of the currently dominant sociological and anthropological conceptualizations that reduce culture to forms of social practice.
- Kern, Thomas. 2009. "Cultural Performance and Political Regime Change." Sociological Theory. 27:3 291-316.
- The question about how culture shapes the possibilities for successful democratization has been a controversial issue for decades. This article maintains that successful democratization depends not only on the distribution of political interests and resources, but to seriously challenge a political regime, the advocates of democracy require cultural legitimacy as well. Accordingly, the central question is how democratic ideas are connected to the broader culture of a social community. This issue will be addressed in the case of South Korea. The Minjung democracy movement challenged the military regime by connecting democratic ideas concerning popular sovereignty and human rights with cultural traditions. The dissidents substantiated democratic values by (1) articulating an alternative concept of political representation against the authoritarian regime, (2) increasing the cultural resonance of their concept by linking democratic ideas to traditional narratives and practices, (3) developing a rich dramaturgical repertoire of collective action, and (4) mobilizing public outrage by fusing the above three elements within historical situations.
- Hitlin, Steven & Glen Elder. 2007. "Time, Self, and the Curiously Abstract Concept of Agency." Sociological Theory. 25:2 170-191.
- The term ``agency'' is quite slippery and is used differently depending on the epistemological roots and goals of scholars who employ it. Distressingly, the sociological literature on the concept rarely addresses relevant social psychological research. We take a social behaviorist approach to agency by suggesting that individual temporal orientations are underutilized in conceptualizing this core sociological concept. Different temporal foci-the actor's engaged response to situational circumstances-implicate different forms of agency. This article offers a theoretical model involving four analytical types of agency (''existential,'' ``identity,''''pragmatic,'' and ``life course'') that are often conflated across treatments of the topic. Each mode of agency overlaps with established social psychological literatures, most notably about the self, enabling scholars to anchor overly abstract treatments of agency within established research literatures.
- Gross, N. 2005. "The Detraditionalization of Intimacy Reconsidered." Sociological Theory. 23:3 286-311.
- This essay challenges those strains of cot? temporary social theory that regard romantic/sexual intimacy as a premier site of detraditionalization in the late modern era. Striking changes have occurred in intimacy and family life over the last half-century, but the notion of detraditionalization as currently formulated does not capture them very well. With the goal of achieving a more refined understanding, the article proposes a distinction between ``regulative'' and ``ineaning-constitutive'' traditions. The former involve threats of exclusion from various moral communities; the latter involve linguistic and cultural frameworks within which sense is made of the world. Focusing on the U.S. case and marshaling various kinds of empirical evidence, the article argues that while the regulative tradition of what it terms lifelong, internally stratified marriage has declined in strength in recent years, the image of the form of couplehood inscribed in this regulative tradition continues to function as a hegemonic ideal in many American intimate relationships. Intimacy in the United States also remains beholden to the tradition of romantic love. That these meaning-constitutive traditions continue to play a central role in structuring contemporary intimacy suggests that detraditionalization involves the relative decline only of certain regulative traditions, a point that calls into question some of the normative assessments that often accompany the detraditionalization thesis.
- Dalton, B. 2004. "Creativity, Habit, and the Social Products of Creative Action: Revising Joas, Incorporating Bourdieu." Sociological Theory. 22:4 603-622.
- Hans Joas's The Creativity of Action (1996) posits that conceiving of all action as fundamentally creative would overcome problems inherent in rational and normative theories of action and would provide an alternative basis for action-based theories of macrosociological phenomena. Joas conceives (of creativity as a response to the frustration of ``prereflective aspirations,'' which necessitates innovative adjustment to reestablish habitual intentions. This conceptualization creates an unsupportable duality between habitual action and creativity that neglects other possible sources of creative action, including habit itself. Combining strengths from Bourdiell's concept of habitus, creativity can be redefined as the necessary adaption of habitual practices to specific contexts of action. Creative action continually introduces novel possibilities in practical action and provokes a variety of social responses to its products. This revised concept of creativity overcomes the dichotomy presented by Joas, identifies a microsocial source of innovation in creative action, and calls attention to patterns of creative authority in society at large.
- Bergesen, AJ. 2004. "Chomsky Versus Mead." Sociological Theory. 22:3 357-370.
- G. H. Mead's model of language and mind, while perhaps understandable at the time it was written, now seems inadequate. First, the research evidence strongly suggests that mental operations exist prior to language onset, conversation of gestures, or social interaction. Second, language is not just significant symbols; it requires syntax. Third, syntax seems to be part of our bioinheritance, that is, part of our presocial mind/brain-what Noam Chomsky has called our language faculty. Fourth, this means syntax probably is not learned nor a social construction that is internalized as a cultural template. Fifth, this suggests a basic reversal of the prevailing model of symbolic interaction, mind, language, and perhaps the self as well, although there has not been the time or space to engage that topic here. Therefore, symbolic interaction may turn out to be a more Chomskyan than Meadian process. Given the bioinheritance of our mind/brain we are able to engage in symbolic interaction; it does not appear that symbolic interaction creates our mind or the basic computational algorithms of language.
- Fligstein, N. 2001. "Social Skill and the Theory of Fields." Sociological Theory. 19:2 105-125.
- The problem of the relationship between actors and the social structures in which they are embedded is central to sociological theory. This paper suggests that the ``new institutionalist ``focus on fields, domains, or games provides an alternative view of how to think about this problem by focusing on the construction of loca( orders. This paper criticizes the conception of actors in both rational choice and sociological versions of these theories. A more sociological view of action, what is called ``social skill,'' is developed. The idea of social skill originates in symbolic interactionism and is defined as the ability to induct cooperation in others. This idea is elaborated to suggest how actors are important to the construction and reproduction of local orders. I show how, its elements already inform existing work. Finally I show how the idea can sensitize scholars to the role of actors in empirical work.
- Gross, N. 1997. "Durkheim's Pragmatism Lectures: a Contextual Interpretation." Sociological Theory. 15:2 126-149.
- This article attempts to understand Emile Durkheim's 1913-14 lectures on pragmatism and sociology by situating them in the socio-intellectual context of the time. An analysis of books and journal articles from the period reveals that the ideas of the Anglo-American pragmatic philosophers Charles Pierce, William James, John Dewey, and F.C.S. Schiller were very popular in pre-World War I France. The French term le pragmatisme, however, was used to refer not only to the thought of these philosophers, but also to the work of French thinkers, such as Henri Bergson and the Catholic Modernists Maurice Blondel and Edouard Le Roy, who wrote extensively about human action. Pragmatism, because of its associations with Bergsonian spiritualism and the theology of the Modernists, came to have religious connotations for many French intellectuals. Durkheim had a similar understanding of pragmatism and his critique of the pragmatists cannot be fully grasped unless these religious connotations are considered. The article concludes by discussing several implications of this interpretation for sociological theory.
- Whitford, J. 2002. "Pragmatism and the Untenable Dualism of Means and Ends: Why Rational Choice Theory Does Not Deserve Paradigmatic Privilege." Theory and Society. 31:3 325-363.
- Gross, N. 2003. "Richard Rorty's Pragmatism: a Case Study in the Sociology of Ideas." Theory and Society. 32:1 93-148.
- Beckert, Jens. 2009. "The Social Order of Markets." Theory and Society. 38:3 245-269.
- In this article I develop a proposal for the theoretical vantage point of the sociology of markets, focusing on the problem of the social order of markets. The initial premise is that markets are highly demanding arenas of social interaction, which can only operate if three inevitable coordination problems are resolved. I define these coordination problems as the value problem, the problem of competition and the cooperation problem. I argue that these problems can only be resolved based on stable reciprocal expectations on the part of market actors, which have their basis in the socio-structural, institutional and cultural embedding of markets. The sociology of markets aims to investigate how market action is structured by these macrostructures and to examine their dynamic processes of change. While the focus of economic sociology has been primarily on the stability of markets and the reproduction of firms, the conceptualization developed here brings change and profit motives more forcefully into the analysis. It also differs from the focus of the new economic sociology on the supply side of markets, by emphasizing the role of demand for the order of markets, especially in the discussion of the problems of valuation and cooperation.
- Bandelj, Nina. 2009. "Emotions in Economic Action and Interaction." Theory and Society. 38:4 347-366.
- How do emotions influence economic action? Current literature recognizes the importance of emotions for economy because they either help individuals perform economic roles through emotion management or enhancement of emotional intelligence, or because they aid rationality through their influence on preference formation. All these strands of research investigate the link between emotions and economy from an atomistic/individualistic perspective. I argue for a different approach, one that adopts a relational perspective, focuses on emotional embeddedness and examines how emotions matter in economic interactions. Emotional embeddedness research starts with a premise that emotions result from and are influenced by interactions between economic actors during the economic process where emotional currents and their visceral and physical manifestations come to the fore. This increases the uncertainty in economic transactions and complicates the given means-ends logic of rational economic decision making, yielding economic action principles different from utility maximization. I propose two types of such creative economic action in this paper: improvisation and situational adaptation. Improvisation characterizes situations where ends (goals) and means are unclear at the beginning of a transaction process and get articulated as a consequence of emotional embeddedness experienced during a process. Situational adaptation characterizes situations in which means or ends of action change because of interaction-induced emotions that prompt actors to choose new means/ends. The article concludes with a call for empirical research that explicates further the influence of emotions not merely for rational economic action but also creative economic interactions.
- Berk, Gerald & Dennis Galvan. 2009. "How People Experience and Change Institutions: a Field Guide to Creative Syncretism." Theory and Society. 38:6 543-580.
- This article joins the debate over institutional change with two propositions. First, all institutions are syncretic, that is, they are composed of an indeterminate number of features, which are decomposable and recombinable in unpredictable ways. Second, action within institutions is always potentially creative, that is, actors draw on a wide variety of cultural and institutional resources to create novel combinations. We call this approach to institutions creative syncretism. This article is in three parts. The first shows how existing accounts of institutional change, which are rooted in structuralism, produce excess complexity and render the most important sources and results of change invisible. We argue that in order to ground the theory of creative syncretism we need a more phenomenological approach, which explains how people live institutional rules. We find that grounding in John Dewey's pragmatist theory of habit. The second part of the article explains Dewey and shows how the theory of habit can ground an experiential account of institutional rules. The third part presents a field guide to creative syncretism. It uses an experiential approach to provide novel insights on three problems that have occupied institutionalist research: periodization in American political development, convergence among advanced capitalist democracies, and institutional change in developing countries.
- Reed, Isaac & Julia Adams. 2011. "Culture in the Transitions to Modernity: Seven Pillars of a New Research Agenda." Theory and Society. 40:3 247-272.
- How did cultural dynamics help bring about the societies we now recognize as modern? This article constructs seven distinct models for how structures of signification and social meaning participated in the transitions to modernity in the West and, in some of the models, across the globe. Our models address: (1) the spread, via imitation, of modern institutions around the world (memetic replication); (2) the construal, by socio-cultural forces and by state organizations, of the modern citizen-subject (social subjectification); (3) the continual search for new meanings to replace traditional religious meaning-systems (compensatory reenchantment); (4) repeated attempts, in modern revolutions, to remake society completely, according to a utopian vision (ideological totalization); (5) the cultural origins and social consequences of scientific and humanistic worldviews (epistemic rift); (6) the gendered politics of state formation (patriarchal supercession); (7) the invention and production of race in the colonial encounter (racial recognition). We explicate the models in reverse chronological order, because in our synthesis, we argue that the original modern break results from a dynamic combination of racial recognition, patriarchal supercession, and epistemic rift; these changes set the stage for the four other processes we theorize. In addition to our synthesis, we also consider, from a more neutral perspective, the kinds of causal arguments upon which these models tend to rely, and thus explicate the analytical undergirding for the application of any of these models to empirical research on transitions to modernity. Throughout the article, we consider how these models might, and might not, mesh with other families of explanation, such as the politico-economic.
- Overdevest, Christine. 2011. "Towards a More Pragmatic Sociology of Markets." Theory and Society. 40:5 533-552.
- A satisfactory sociology of markets requires that both order and disorder in markets be addressed, yet sociologists have seemed more concerned with theorizing market stability and order. Change, however, is too fundamental a part of markets to receive so little sociological attention. One perspective that provides a fertile ground for moving ahead with developing an agenda for studying both stability and change in markets is American pragmatist social theory. This article therefore examines the influence of a pragmatist viewpoint on two broad modern theoretical approaches that have implications for the sociology of markets, one focused on stabilization processes, the other on institutional designs for promoting change. Most particularly, it draws on work carried out from a pragmatist viewpoint and illustrates a pragmatic approach to change in markets using the case of the EU's Forest, Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) action plan and initiative.
- Schneiderhan, Erik. 2011. "Pragmatism and Empirical Sociology: the Case of Jane Addams and Hull-house, 1889-1895." Theory and Society. 40:6 589-617.
- The theoretical tools bequeathed to us by classical and revival pragmatism offer the potential for informing robust empirical work in sociology. But this potential has yet to be adequately demonstrated. There are a number of strands of pragmatism; this article draws primarily upon Dewey's theory of action to examine Hull-House in its early years. Of particular interest are the practices of Jane Addams and other Hull-House residents. What were they doing to help people and why? An attempt to answer these questions in non-teleological terms forms the empirical basis of the article. This article should provide some support to those historical sociologists who might consider (or already are) taking a pragmatist turn in their work. And, it should strengthen the empirical foundations of pragmatism as an alternative (non-teleological) way to understand social action.
- Beckert, Jens. 2012. "The ``social Order of Markets'' Approach: a Reply to Kurtulus Gemici." Theory and Society. 41:1 119-125.
- This is a detailed reply to Kurtulus Gemici's article, in this issue of Theory and Society, ``Uncertainty, the problem of order, and markets: a critique of Beckert, Theory and Society, May 2009.''
- Anderson, Elisabeth. 2013. "Ideas in Action: the Politics of Prussian Child Labor Reform, 1817-1839." Theory and Society. 42:1 81-119.
- This article explains the political origins of an 1839 law regulating the factory employment of children in Prussia. The article has two aims. First, it seeks to explain why Prussia adopted the particular law that it did. Existing historical explanations of this particular policy change are not correct, largely because they fail to take into account the actual motivations and intentions of key reformers. Second, the article contributes to theories of the role of ideas in public policymaking. Ideas interact with institutional and political factors to serve as motivators and as resources for policy change. As motivators, they drive political action and shape the content of policy programs; as resources, they enable political actors to recruit supporters and forge alliances. I offer a theory of the relationship between ideas, motivation, and political action, and I develop a methodological framework for assessing the reliability of political actors' expressed motivations. Further, I explain how political actors use ideas as resources by deploying three specific ideational strategies: framing, borrowing, and citing. By tracing how different understandings of the child labor problem motivated and were embodied in two competing child labor policy proposals, I show how the ideas underlying reform had significant consequences for policy outcomes.
- Beckert, Jens. 2013. "Imagined Futures: Fictional Expectations in the Economy." Theory and Society. 42:3 219-240.
- Starting from the assumption that decision situations in economic contexts are characterized by fundamental uncertainty, this article argues that the decision-making of intentionally rational actors is anchored in fictions. ``Fictionality'' in economic action is the inhabitation in the mind of an imagined future state of the world and the beliefs in causal mechanisms leading to this future state. Actors are motivated in their actions by the imagined future and organize their activities based on these mental representations. Since these representations are not confined to empirical reality, fictional expectations are also a source of creativity in the economy. Fictionality opens up a way to an understanding of the microfoundations of the dynamics of the economy. The article develops the notion of fictional expectations. It discusses the role of fictional expectations for the dynamics of the economy and addresses the question of how fictional expectations motivate action. The last part relates the notion of fiction to calculation and social macrostructures, especially institutions and cultural frames. The conclusion hints at the research program developing from the concept of fictional expectations.