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Theories and practices: studies of practical reasoning in everyday life and in the construction of theory

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This thesis subjects the relation between professional theory and everyday practice to examination. It inquires into the social reflexivity of theorising and practical action, and their essential engagement. The areas of practice which are inquired into are as follows: The construction and use of ideal-typical constructs as central elements in coming to terms with subterranean meanings. This is carried out in relation to the establishment of sexual relationships through 'contact magazines'. The behaviour of pre-school, nursery children is examined in relation to their abilities for and use of language. This is with reference to situations which are organised by adults, and situations organised by the children themselves. The production of a charge by the police, and the subsequent outcome in court is inquired into in respect of the attitude of professional theorising.
The thesis redefines these areas of practice in terms of the theoretical competence displayed and required there. They are seen as areas which are populated by practical sociologists and which produce sociologies themselves. It is taken that these areas of practice display theoretical competences which professional inquiry ignores, takes for granted, and uses yet which are of fundamental importance to inquiring into the social. Professional theory's ideals of clarity and superiority are discussed in relation to the work of T.S. Kuhn and Plato, as being based upon occasional and irregular methods which accomplish for all practical purposes its serious intentions.
Through the continuous use, discussion, and examination of the work of Harold Garfinkel - most notably the use of the concepts of indexicality and reflexivity - the thesis recommends a deeper and more fundamental understanding of human practical action. This is through the establishment of a reflexive sociology, which locates and documents the grounds of creativity and artfulness whereby theory and practice are constituted.

Publication Date Jan 1, 1979


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