The Plural Actor
The Plural Actor
The individual that the social sciences take as an object is mostoften studied in a particular context or from a single dimension.The actor is analysed as a student, worker, consumer, spouse,reader, sportsperson, a voter etc. However, in societies whereindividuals live often through simultaneously and successivelyheterogeneous and sometimes contradictory social experiences, eachperson inevitably carries a plurality of roles, ways of seeing,feeling and acting.

The aim of this study is to consider the ways in which thisplurality of worlds and experiences are incorporated into the beingof each individual and to observe the individual's actions in avariety of settings. In addition to his sociological viewpoint, theauthor engages with psychology, history, anthropology andphilosophy. His reflections lead him to embark on a program ofpsychological sociology to highlight the complexities of thisplural view of the social.

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  • February 2011
  • 280 pages
  • 161 x 237 mm / 6 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $69.95
  • 9780745646848
  • Paperback $26.95
  • 9780745646855
Table of Contents

Act I: Sketch of a Theory of the Plural Actor.

Scene I: The Plural Actor.

On Singleness.

The single self: a commonplace illusion, but sociallywell-founded.

The sociohistorical conditions of singleness and plurality.

The plurality of social contexts and repertoires of habits.

The Proustian model of the plural actor.

Splitting of the self and mental conflict: crossings of socialspace.

Scene II. The Wellsprings of Action.

Presence of the past, present of action.

The many occasions for maladjustment and crisis.

The plurality of the actor and the openings of the present.

Conditional dispositions.

The negative power of the context: inhibition and latency.

'Code switching' and 'code mixing' within the same context.

Actors uncertainly swinging.

Scene III. Analogy and Transfer.

Practical analogy and the triggers of action and memory.

Involuntary action and memory.

The role of habits.

From analytic transfer to the interview relationship.

A relative transferability.

From general to partial schemas.

From generalized transfer to limited and conditionaltransfer.

Scene IV: Literary Experience: Reading, Daydreams andParapraxes.

Act II. Reflexivities and Logics of Action.

Scene I: School, Action, and Language.

The scholastic break with practical reason.

Saussure, or the pure theory of scholastic practices onlanguage.

The social conditions of departure from practical reason.

Scene II. The Everyday Practices of Writing inAction.

Embodied memory, objectified memory.

Everyday breaks with practical reason.

'Doing it like that'.

Memory for the unusual.

The longer term and preparing the future.

Managing complex practices.

The official, the formal, and tense situations.

The presence of the absent.

Temporary disturbances of practical reason.

The use of plans: lists of all kinds.

The relative pertinence of practical reason.

Scene III. The Plural Logics of Action.

The ambiguity of a singular practice.

The sporting model of practical reason and its limitations.

Intentionality and the levels of context.

Plurality of times and logics of action.

Act III. Forms of Embodiment.

Scene I. The Place of Language.

The world of silence.

The punctuation of action and its theorization.

Language and the forms of social life.

The mysterious inside.

Scene II. What Exactly Is Embodied?

Processes of embodimentÐinternalization.

The polymorphic embodiment of written culture in the world ofthe family.

Negative identifications and the force of implicitinjunctions.

Act IV. Workshops and Debates.

Scene I. Psychological Sociology.

An exit from sociology?

The objectivity of the 'subjective'.

The singular folds of the social.

Multideterminism and the sense of freedom.

New methodological requirements.

Scene II. Pertinent Fields.

On excessive generalization.

The varying scale of context in the social sciences.

Experimental variation and loss of illusions.

The historicizing of universal theories and fields ofpertinence.

About the Author

Bernard Lahire is the author of The Plural Actor, published by Wiley.

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"Lahire is disparaging of that 'umpteenth version of a theory ofthe free'; any feeling of freedom or ironic consciousness is simplythe result of the complexity of that determination of whose actualweight individuals can have no practical intuition. But perhapsmore than anything else, this book demonstrates the continuingvalidity and relevance - and for Bourdieuians 'more than ever' - ofjust such theories of freedom."
Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

"Congratulations to Bernard Lahire for opening a new window.With the decline of primordial thinking (stressing race, class,gender, and nationhood), heightened by globalization, he suggestshow to see, and conceptualize, the social world in an open,pluralistic mode. He builds on tradition, milieu, and context, butshows how thinking, goals, and a plurality of values combine inwhat we do."
Terry Nichols Clark, University of Chicago

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