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The Creativity of Action
by Hans Joas
translated by Jeremy Gaines and Paul Keast
University of Chicago Press, 1996
Cloth: 978-0-226-40043-3 | Paper: 978-0-226-40044-0
Library of Congress Classification HM291.J56213 1996
Dewey Decimal Classification 302

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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