Performing Action: Artistry in Human Behavior and Social Research

1st Edition

Joseph R. Gusfield

Published March 30, 2015
Reference - 351 Pages
ISBN 9781412856119 - CAT# Y360982

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In recent years the social sciences and the humanities have drawn closer to each other in thought and method. This rapprochement has led to new perceptions of human behaviour by sociologists, as well as new methodological orientations. Sociologist Joseph R. Gusfield draws upon drama and fiction to show how human action is shaped by the formal dimensions of performance.

Gusfield first defines the concept of behaviour as artistic performance. He then analyses routine and classic social research reports as literary performances in qualitative and quantitative terms. Next he moves to social movements and public actions, demonstrating how objects and events are products of the interpretation and reflection of individuals. He draws upon literary and artistic conventions to deal with issues of representation and meaning. In the first and last chapters, Gusfield provides a conceptual summary examining the relation between sociology as science and art, arguing that sociological methods are neither science nor art, but partake of both.

Following the philosopher Paul Ricouer, Gusfield shows how human behaviour can be read as a text, always telling the participant or observer "something about something." Performing Action will be of interest to sociologists, psychologists, and students of aesthetics and critical theory.


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