The Jamesian theory of action

Jack Barbalet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

By emphasizing the emotional basis of action and the orientation of action to the future, the theory of action in William James challenges and provides an alternative to accounts of action which emphasize cognition and norms. This paper provides a statement of the Jamesian theory of action, which has been neglected in sociology. The Jamesian critique of the approach to social action in symbolic interactionism and in Parsons's voluntaristic theory of action is also indicated in the paper. Other aspects of the Jamesian theory of action of interest to sociological concern treated in the paper are the non-constructionist account of emotion developed by James, and his reconceptualization of rationality as continuous with rather than opposed to emotion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-121
Number of pages20
JournalSociological Review
Volume45
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1997

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