Pragmatism and Social Interactionism

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This paper examines the interfaces between pragmatism and interactionist sociology. Four tenets central to social interactionism have been selected for this study: the philosophical perspective on reality as being in the state of flux, the sociological view of social structure as emergent process, the methodological preference for participatory modes of research, and the ideological commitment to ongoing social reconstruction as a goal of sociological practice. It is argued that from the start interactionist sociologists were concerned with the problem of social order and sought new ways of conceptualizing social structure. Special emphasis is placed on the interactionists' predilection for a logic of inquiry sensitive to the objective indeterminacy of the situation. An argument is made that the failure of interactionist sociologists to address head-on the issues of power and inequality reflects not so much their uncritical reliance on pragmatism as their failure to follow consistently pragmatist tenets and to fulfill the political commitments of pragmatist philosophers.


Pragmatism; Social structure; Symbolic interactionism


Politics and Social Change | Social Psychology and Interaction | Sociology


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