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Continual Permutations of Action (2008)
Richard Bernstein expressed the view that pragmatism was ahead of its time; the same has been true of symbolic interactionism. These two closely related perspectives, one philosophical and the other sociological, place human action at the center of their explanatory schemes. It has not mattered what aspect of social or psychological behavior was under scrutiny. Whether selves, minds, or emotions, or institutions, social structures, or social change, all have been conceptualized as forms of human activity. This view is the simple genius of these perspectives. Anselm Strauss always took ideas pertaining to action and process seriously. Here he makes explicit the theory of action that implicitly guided his research for roughly forty years. It is understood that Strauss accepts the proposition that acting (or even better, interacting) causes social structure. He lays the basis for this idea in the nineteen assumptions he articulates early in the book--assumptions that elaborate and make clearer Herbert Blumer's famous premises of symbolic interactionism.
The task Strauss put before himself is how to keep the complexity of human group life in front of the researcher/theorist and simultaneously articulate an analytical scheme that clarifies and reveals that complexity. With these two imperfectly related issues before him, Strauss outlines an analytical scheme of society in action. It is a scheme that rests not on logical necessity but on research and observation, and the concepts he uses are proposed because they do a certain amount of analytical work. One would be well advised to take Continual Permutations of Action very seriously.
Anselm L. Strauss (1916-1996) was professor of sociology and chair of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco. His many books include Creating Sociological Awareness, Images of the American City, and Professions, Work, and Careers all available from Transaction.
David R. Maines is professor and chair of sociology and anthropology at Oakland University. He was one of the founding members of the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction and has been a recipient of the SSSI George Herbert Mead Award for lifetime contributions to scholarship.
Work Areas (listed alphabetically)
Grounded Theory Methods
- Strauss Publications on Grounded Theory Methods (bibliography)
- A Personal History of the Development of Grounded Theory
- At the University of Chicago when I was a graduate student (1939-44), there was a well entrenched tradition of doing what is now called qualitative research. It wasn’t’ called by this name then, and there was no self-consciousness about quantitative versus qualitative studies. Chicago theses and monographs might use both, or one or the other methods. They also used a variety of data sources: interviews, field observations, archival materials, library materials, diaries, government reports and statistics. This department also had close relations with anthropology, and I took a minor in social anthropology. The data for my doctoral thesis were part questionnaire and part in-depth interview. My major post-doctoral research was a study of children’s conceptions of money, a Piaget-like developmental study, again using statistics and interviews. It was not until almost 15 years after graduation that I headed a team studying psychiatric ideologies in mental hospitals that I began to develop the ethnographic style characteristic of my research since then. (We did build in a minor quantitative side to the research in close conjunction with the field observations.)
- Science of Caring Research Issue
- Strauss Publications on Health Organizations / Policy (bibliography)
- Where Medicine Fails (table of contents)
- Social Organization of Medical Work (table of contents)
Identity / Social Psychology
Persons can be conceived as taking some particular stance toward the historical, supra-personal past. They may be memorializing it, rejecting it, recreating it, cashing in on it, escaping, or in flight from it; these are but a few of the countless possibilities. Personal styles are built around such possibilities, and entire series of personal acts may be viewed as strategies in rejecting, escaping, recapturing, and the like. A man may write a book, marry a woman, or build an organization for such ends. When we interview persons we catch them during some temporal cross section in the building or transforming of styles that lead to history; this is one important way to regard the contents of interviews and conversations. - Anselm Strauss Mirrors and Masks (Free Press, 1959:169).
- Strauss Publications on Identity and Social Psychology (bibliography)
- Introduction to the French Translation of Mirrors and Masks: The Search for Identity (1992)
Illness, Dying and Trajectories
- Strauss Publications on Chronic Illness, Dying and Trajectories (bibliography)
- Research On Chronic Illness And Its Management - Fifth Helen Nahm Research Lecture, June 7, 1985
- Zack W. Hall's 1987 Introduction of Anselm Strauss as UCSF's Thirtieth Annual Faculty Research Lecturer - April 9, 1987, in Cole Hall, UCSF
- Strauss Publications on Social Organization/Social Worlds - (bibliography)
- Social Worlds and Spatial Processes: An Analytic Perspective
- The AIDS Policy Arena: Contingent Aspects of Social World / Arena Theory (Carolyn Wiener, Anselm Strauss, Shizuko Fagerhaugh and Barbara Suczek)
- 1961 Images of the American City. New York: Free Press.
- 1976 Reprinted (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books).
- 1968 Ed. The American City: A Sourcebook of Urban Imagery. Chicago: Aldine.
- 1958 “Symbolic Representation and the Urban Milieu.” American Journal of Sociology 63:523-32. (with Richard R. Wohl).
- 1960 “The Changing Imagery of American City and Suburbs.” Sociological Quarterly 1:15-24.
- 1967 “Strategies for Discovering Urban Theory.” Pp. 79-98 in Urban Research and Policy Planning, edited by Leo Schnore and Henry Fagin. Beverly Hills: Sage.