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Title:Towards a Hermeneutic of Meaningful Social Action
Author(s):Stone, Brad Lowell
Department / Program:Sociology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Sociology, Theory and Methods
Abstract:This dissertation includes a "philosophical" investigation of meaning and understanding and a discussion of the sociological methods which follow from, and preserve integrity of, a correct view of the nature of meaningful social action. My analysis is inspired by Martin Heidegger and Hans-Georg Gadamer. Following these thinkers, I castigate the Neo-Kantian/Phenomenological tradition's preoccupation with the cogito and epistemological issues and present an ontological analysis of meaning and understanding. Alfred Schutz's works are discussed in great detail as representing the Kantian legacy, and it is primarily in response to his works that I forge the major theme of the dissertation--the untenability of an "objective" detached understanding of social action. An ontology of human understanding reveals that not only can individuals not detach themselves from their own past experiences, it is from within the structure of past experiences that we project meaning. All understanding is first, and foremost, fore-understanding or prejudice. Consequently, the scientific theme is not made secure by a detached neutrality on the part of observers of social action; rather, this theme is made secure through prolonged empirical contact and dialogue. Understanding requires an active participation on the part of observers. Accordingly, participant observation and in-depth unstructured interviews are deemed the methods par excellence for establishing an interpretive understanding of social action.
Issue Date:1981
Description:148 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1981.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8203604
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-16
Date Deposited:1981

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