The Pragmatic Imagination in Everyday Life


Dreaming of a Better World For All: The Pragmatic Imagination in Everyday Life

Making Symbolic Interactionism Fit For The Twenty First Century?

Ken Plummer

(Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of Essex)

2nd European Meeting of the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction

Everyday Life, Social Control and Ethnography

University of Kassel, Germany. July 21st-24th 2011.

If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heartbeat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence. As it is, the quickest of us walk about well wadded with stupidity.  George Eliot, Middlemarch.

 Life is what you do while you’re waiting to die.

Life is how the time goes by.            Zorba: The Musical by John Kander and Fred Ebb

 We should consider everyday lost on which we have not danced at least once. And we should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh. Saying on a greeting card – credited to Nietzsche.

 I am done with great things and big plans, great institutions and big success.

I am for those tiny, invisible loving human forces that work from individual to individual, creeping through the crannies of the world like so many rootlets,
or like the capillary oozing of water,  which, if given time, will rend the hardest monuments of pride.
William James: Letters



Outlining some key elements for an explicit symbolic interactionist (S.I.) theory of everyday life, I argue the need to foster a pragmatic imagination, one which will highlight political and ethical (normative) concerns. In so doing I believe we will help make our theory and our research more ‘alive’ and more ‘relevant’ for a twenty first critical social analysis towards a better world for all.  After a few comments about the problematic nature of ‘everyday life’ in global literatures, I address five issues. The first suggests that much research within S.I. theory over the past fifty years or so has helped provide us with the fragments of a rich, even ‘formal’, theory of everyday life.  It is a very valuable contribution and we ought to promote a wider understanding in the wider world; but it has its limits and there are also some major gaps. So my second concern suggests one of these gaps: the blandness and neutrality of too much S.I. theory. I look swiftly at a world riddled with human sufferings, and ask how we could develop a more engaged –even normative theory. Looking back over its past will help provides one way of building a more engaged account of the present; early interactions were far from neutral thinkers. Here we can find scholars who were busy developing a more political and ethical agenda, which I call the Pragmatic Imagination. In part three, I outline some elements of this political project. From this, I turn to a human imaginary – a dreaming exercise of a better world. This suggests drawing upon vast traditions of thought which dreams of a better world and putting it to pragmatic use. If I have time, I will highlight especially empathy and care (which seem to be closely attuned to SI); social justice and human rights which much of our work has addressed; and human development and capabilities – an approach developed by Sen and Nussbam, which pays little interest to  pragmatism or S.I per se ( and in some accounts, may even be antithetical to it). But I argue it has features from which may be useful for us.  Finally, these values and others permeate our work when we (a) formulate our problems, (b) do our research, and (c) make public our ideas. I conclude with a vision of cosmopolitan hope enabled by our abiding concerns with grounded ethnographies of global moral and political life.



A Plural World – Prologue: ‘Life in a Day’ – The Lists of Life




All of sociology necessarily begins with understanding of everyday life, and all of sociology is directed either to increasing our understanding of everyday life, or more practically, to improving our everyday life.  Jack Douglas. Understanding Everyday Life  1971: p3

The multiple theories and problems of analyzing everyday life

‘what is left over’ after all distinct, superior or specialized activities have been singled out by analysis (Lefebvre)

The long history of S.I. accounts (and their wider neglect)

An interactionist account of everyday life

Global Everyday Life in the twenty first century

Everyday life in the obdurate world of power and inequalities



We are threatened with suffering from three directions: from our own body, which is doomed to decay and dissolution…; from the external world, which may rage against us with ovewhelming and merciless forces of destruction; and finally from our relations with other men. The suffering which comes from this last source is perhaps more painful than any other  Freud:Civilization and Its Discontents. 1930/1975 p14


The problems of dehumanization: & violence, pauperization, exclusion and injustice etc

A world of inequalities

Damaged Lives/ Wasted Lives  (Bauman ; Bourdieu etc).

The search for ethics and politics centered on a ‘better world for all’.



Pragmatism is in reality… only the application of Humanism to the theory of knowledge’ Schiller, via Rorty …. ‘Human beings have responsibilities only to one another entails giving up representationalism and realism….. (Bernstein : 2010: p211)


Social ‘science’ needs to be normative and to have a role in the twenty first century, it needs to become much more concerned with moral and ethical debate’ (Plummer, 2003: 94)


Kinds of interactionist theory: (a) grounded& empirical, (b) formal & conceptual, (c) normative.

Normative theories and human suffering: The Pragmatic Imagination

The roots of an interactionist normative theory – the foundational pragmatic imagination: James, Addams, Mead, Dewey, ‘The Chicago School’ (Park, Blumer et al)

Subterranean traditions and  ‘ transgressive’ theories: from Simmel to Mills to Rorty to Denzin

The logics of the Pragmatic Imagination

The Real Thing is Human Life.
Damn great Empires! Including that of the Absolute.
Give me individuals and their spheres of activity.
The real world is the experience of actual men and women,
and not abbreviated and shorthand descriptions of it
(William James)


Philosophy and its problems

The need for a practical and everyday approach

The core of the pragmatic imagination: politics and ethics

The pragmatic imagination – Seven Visions, Dreams, Imaginations.

(Dreaming of a better world)

  1. Ideas and meanings are human and socially made
  2. Ideas and meanings have consequences
  3. Ideas are nor monologic but dwell in dialogues: in empathy, sympathy, conversations, relationships –  and sometimes the ‘quiet catharsis of comprehension’.
  4. Human life dwells in contradictions: avoid false polarities and dualisms (e.g. mind/body; materialism/idealism etc).
  5. We live in a plural world with many ways and paths
  6. And our worlds are always changing and contingent
  7. We need not just ‘ science’, but art, creativity and imaginations
  8. Practical activities engage with others – and bring potentials for creative & participatory democracies…
  9. With openness, fluidity and tolerance
  10. Keep grounded, be practical,

If we strain out the differences, personal and philosophical, they had with one another, we can say that what these four thinkers (Homes, James, Peirce and Dewey) had in common was not a group of ideas but a single idea- an idea about ideas. They all believed that ideas are not ‘out there’ waiting to be discovered, but are tools – like forks and knives and microchips – that people devise to cope with the world in which they find themselves. They believed that ideas are produced not by individuals – but by groups of individuals – that ideas are social. They believed that ideas do not develop according to some inner logic of their own, but are entirely dependent, like germs, on their human carriers. And they believed that since ideas are provisional responses to particular and unreproducible circumstance, their survival depends not on their immutability but on their adaptability. Luis Menard: The Metaphysical Club 2001 pxi-xii

(Caution: Be careful of taking moral and political philosophy as our guide? It is wonderful and important but too much of it inhabits its own isolated world – it is too abstract & rational and worried about its own purity and even at war with itself over such issues. In overrating the monologic and the rational, it often ignores the emotional, the embodied, the grounded mess of daily contingent and pluralistic lived lives. Thinly grounded it often ignores wide power structures…………


On Justice, Equality, Freedom, Rights, Care, Compassion, Empathy, The Good Life, Human Flourishing, Cosmopolitan Hope….   And The Whole Damn Thing!


The social sciences are normative disciplines, always already embedded in issues of value, ideology, power, desire, sexism, racism, domination, repression and control. We want a social science that is committed up front to issues of social justice, equity, non violence and peace, and universal human rights. We do not want a social science that says it can address these issues if it wants to. For us, that is no longer an option.      Norman Denzin and Yvonne Lincoln: Handbook of Qualitative Research, 3rd edition, 2005: page 13  (and in 5th edition, 2011)

The large global world of abstract philosophies ( from Rawls to Sen, from Fraser to Parfitt) now needs grounding into our values of everyday life living (or practices).

Three examples (of many):


1 Cultivate Dialogic and Compassionate Ethics: The Empathetic Society

On role taking and dialogue: enhancing dialogues of the self

Care, compassion and sympathy: enhancing sympathy, compassion & kindness

[Communication as key: found in German transition to Habermas, Joas, Honneth & Karl Otto-Apel]

2 Work for Social Justice and Human Rights for all: The Just/Human Rights Society
Foster human rights and the democratisation of everyday life

From Kantian Universalists to contemporary fragments.

Global social movements and change.

3 Encourage Flourishing Lives: Human possibilities and capabilities facilitated: The Flourishing  Society

Links to Nussbaum and capabvaility/ development theory.  NB

i)               keep practical not abstract ( Nussbaum keeps close to women & India)

ii)             capabilities are wide open and changing – they are not fixed

iii)            Social relations helps shape them and enable them to flourish


We need stories in order to live. Joan Didion (in book of that name).

Narrative makes the earth habitable for human beings” Arthur Frank, Letting Stories Breathe: p46

Ethnography and Everyday life

Value baselines in : (a) the formulation of problems, (b) the doing of research and (c) the public role of our ideas.

Grounded Moral Stories, Narrative of Ethics, Tales of Justice and Rights, Stories of Human Flourishing…..

Cosmopolitan Hope: Be hopeful and positive. Watch out for the negative face of too much critique.  Grasp the future of new generations. Go global. A whisper of utopia

We all belong to small cliques and we may remain simply inside them. The ‘organized other’ present in ourselves is then a community of narrow diameter. We are struggling now to get a certain amount of international-mindedness. We are realizing ourselves as members of a larger community. The vivid nationalism of the present should in the end call out an international attitude of a larger community….What I am emphasizing now is that the organization of these responses makes the community possible” : George Herbert Mead, Mind Self and Society: 1934: 265-6

“An optimist of the will and a pessimist of the intellect “  Gramsci






Umberto Eco: The Infinity of Lists

Walter Benjamin: The Arcades Project

Lists of lists etc…..

10 Classics of (Western) Everyday Life

  1. Leon Trotsky  Problems of Everyday Life
  2. Sigmund Freud The Psychopathology of Everyday Life
  3. Norbert Elias The Civilizing Process
  4. Erving Goffman The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life
  5. Michael de Certeau The Practices of Everyday Life
  6. Henri Lefebre  Everyday life in the Modern World
  7. Ferdnand Braudel  The Structures of Everyday Life
  8. Marcello Truzzi ed Sociology and Everyday Life
  9. Stan Cohen and Laurie Taylor Escape Attempts: The Theory and Practice of Resistance in Everyday life
  10. Candace West Misery and Company: Sympathy in Everyday Life

Themes of Everyday Life in the 21st Century…..

  • Inequalities: Jodi O’Brien & Judith Howard   Everyday Inequalities (several editions)
  • Globalization: Larry Ray  The Globalization of Everyday Life
    • Jorg Durrschmidt Everyday Lives in the Global City
    • Cosmopolitanism: Elijah Anderson   The Cosmopolitan Canopy: Race and Civility in Everyday Life
    • Commodification & Consumption: Mark Patterson Comsumption and Everyday Life
    • Digitalization and Networking: Barry Wellman  The Internet in Everyday Life
    • Embodiment: Sarah Nettleton et al eds The Body in Everyday Life
    • Risk: Iain Wilkinson  Risk, Vulnerability and Everyday Life
    • Informalization: Cas Wouters  Informalization
    • Individualization:  Ulrich Beck  Individualization
    • Individualism: Anthony Elliott & Charles Lemert  The New Individualism)
    • Mediatization: Jose Vam Dijck  Mediated Memories
    • Mediatization: Shaun Moores Media and Everyday life in Modern Society

And on,and on…. (there are over 7,000 books listed on Google with ‘Everyday’ as key!

Ben  Highmore: Ordinary Lives:  Studies in the Everyday

Ben Highmore ed The Everyday Life Reader  (2002) Routledge
Susie Scott  Making Sense of Everyday Life (2009) Polity

Barry Glassner Qualitative Sociology as Everyday Life

John Ross Living Dangerously: Navigating the Risks of Everyday Life Thomas Moore Care of the Soul : A Guide for cultivating depth and sacredness in everyday life

Joan Cleveland  Simplifying Life as a Senior Citizen: Hundreds of Tips for Everyday living

David Karp    Sociology in Everyday Life

Jaber Gubrium et al Ageing and Everyday life

Intersections of Everyday Life

Gender: Derald Wing Sue Microagressions in Everyday Life

Disability: Debashis Pattanaik Reorienting Social Representation and Disability: Children with Disabilities, Their families and Everyday Life

Paul Ramcharan et al Empowerment in Everyday Life: Learning Disability

Ethnicity Christian Garner  Ethnicity and Everyday Life

Bo Petereson et al Majority Cultures and the Everyday Politics of Difference

Amanda Wise & Selvarai Velayutham Everyday Multiculturalism

Animals  In the company of animals  /  Sexualities  /  Class  /  Age  /  Nations  etc etc

10 Core Values

Drawn from Western philosophies

  1. Dialogic ethics: recognition, generosity
  2. Virtue ethics: being a good person
  3. Feminist ethics
  4. Ethics of care
  5. Justice theories: equality, freedom & welfare
  6. Theories of democracy
  7. Human rights theory: individual & collective
  8. Environmental ethics
  9. Theological theories

9: So don’t forget:

The Eightfold Path (Buddhists)

The Ten Commandment (Judaism & Christianity)

Thr Five Pillars of Islam

The Writings of Confucius

10 Processes dividing everyday lives   DIVIDED LIVES
(how are we hindered in our capabilities and potentials?)

  1. exclusion ;
  2. dominance and subordination; exploitation;
  3. marginalization, stereotyping, discrimination and stigmatization;
  4. ghettoization and segregation;
  5. colonization;
  6. violence,
  7. pauperization
  8. dis-empowerment
  9. the silencing of voices.’ othering’;
  10. dehumanization; violence – and ultimately genocide)



Background Features

(a) Generating Grounded Analysis of ‘Empirically Obdurate’ ‘Plural’ ‘Situated’ ‘Social Worlds ‘ of Everyday Life( cf Herbert Blumer, Anselm Strauss, Adele Clark)
(b) Theorising the Formal Processes ( Simmel), Generic Processes (Prus), and Strategies of  Doing Everyday Social Life  ( cf Georg Simmel, Robert Prus, John Lofland).

PRUS (1996) : On formal properties: The most basic processes (which he develops much further)

Acquiring Perspectives  – Achieving Identity-  Being Involved – Doing Activity – Experiencing Relationships – Forming and Co-ordinating Associations

LOFLAND  (1976) on analytic interruptus: Encounter-Scale Situations and Strategies / Role-Scale Situations and Strategies / Group-Scale Situations & Strategies  / Organization-Scale and Strategies   / And- maybe- Settlements and Societies

For each situation, he outlines many strategies:

This is modified greatly for his later methods text where he adds: Practices/ Episodes/ Subcultures and lifestyles


Here, then, are just ten features- all overlapping and interconnected – to get us going:

1. The search for meaning in a material world

Stories, narratives & accounts-

language- symbols and symbolic creativity -consciousness/phenomenology.

But also a layer of fantasies, minds, unconscious, ‘escape attempts.


2. The routinisation and habitualisation of life – and its threats

Habits, routines, rituals, logics  of practice – strategies and tactics, habitus, trust… and their ‘breachings’ (c Garfinkel) and ‘resistances’


3. Living with  the ‘others’ in dialogues

Reflexivity, dialogues, co-presence, communication, interactions, intersubjectvities


4. The construction, maintenance and transformation of selves

Role taking, recognition, mindfulness, self-dialectics, identity, individualities


5. Living in a continuously contingent flow of time

Emergence and entropy, contingencies, time maps, careers, history, process, memories


6. Creating the strategies, tactics and social worlds  – the recipies – of life

Doing social life…….


7. The embodiment and sensualities of daily life

Body projects,

8. Creating Space and territories – making situational maps……..

9. The negotiation of intersecting inequalities and resources

Power, age, class, gender, ethnicity, sexualites, disabilities, nations


10. The negotiation of an ethical and political life

We have a lot of work on many of these areas – but not all. Maybe we fail too often  to take seriously the problems, sufferings, inequalities, damages of everyday life. We need to correct this.


APPENDIX C:  The search for dialogues – understanding our differences  (see Plummer, 2003; 2010)

Establish workable ways for living together with our differences in everyday life and without unbearable conflicts

  1. Recognising all the others – listen to their lived stories – avoid dehumanizing,degrading, mocking or silencing ‘the other’…? In a sense this is a precondition for ‘good talk’ of any kind. (Theories of recognition)
  2. Finding  common grounds? From standpoints to a universal rationality and science?

Universals – a sense of human capabilities, a sense of common value (human rights theory); a universal sense of the uniqueness, variety (difference theory)

  1. Fostering a cosmopolitan imagination or attitude?
  2. Appreciating the social contexts of arguments? An awareness of solidarities… (the life come with their own sense of belongings and solidarities, their own habitus?
  3. Being aware of the matrix of inequalities and the differences of power? How do voices get heard- who is not heard  (discourse theory, standpoint theory, the subaltern).
  4. Weakening the argument culture’ – a phrase coined by the psychologist Deborah Tannen -, by which sides have to be taken on everything. Is life always (or ever?) a polarity, a binary, a dichotomy, a struggle between good and evil.  Might not life be more like a continuum of differences- more subtle and complex than brute divides? (Argumentation theory –Billig et al).
  5. Understanding the emotional and embodied basis (and history) of much life and talk? For to hear people argue their positions is to sense immediately that something much grander than reason is at stake: it is often as if these people are literally fighting for their lives.
  6. Developing better ways of approaching  conflict and its management?

(Source: Plummer Intimate Citizenship 2003).


APPENDIX D: Martha Nussbaum’s Central Human Functional Capabilities

1.Life.  Being able to live to the end of a human life of normal length; not dying prematurely or before one’s life is so reduced as to be not worth living

2.Bodily Health.  Being able to have good health, including reproductive health; being adequately nourished; being able to have adequate shelter

3.Bodily Integrity.  Being able to move freely from place to place; having one’s bodily boundaries treated as sovereign i.e..being able to be secure against assault, including sexual assault, marital rape, and domestic violence; having opportunities for sexual satisfaction and for choice in matters of reproduction.

4.Senses, imagination, and thought.  Being able to use the senses; being able to imagine, to think, and to reason – and to do these things in a “truly human” way, a way informed and cultivated by an adequate education, including, but by no means limited to, literacy and basic mathematical and scientific training; being able to use imagination and thought in connection with experiencing and producing expressive works and events of one’s own choice (religious, literary, musical etc.); being able to use one’s mind in ways protected by guarantees of freedom of expression with respect to both political and artistic speech and freedom of religious exercise; being able to have pleasurable experiences and to avoid non-necessary  pain.

5.Emotions.  Being able to have attachments to things and persons outside ourselves; being able to love those who love and care for us; being able to grieve at their absence; in general being able to love, to grieve, to experience longing, gratitude, and justified anger; not having one’s emotional development blighted by overwhelming fear or anxiety, or by traumatic events of abuse or neglect..  (Supporting this capability means supporting forms of human association that can be shown to be crucial in their development.

6.Practical reason.  Being able to form a conception of the good and to engage in critical reflection about the planning of one’s own life.  (This entails protection for the liberty of conscience.)

7.Affiliation.  (a) Being able to live for and in relation to others, to recognize and show concern for other human beings, to engage in various forms of social interaction; being able to imagine the situation of another and to have compassion for the situation; having the  capability for both justice and friendship.  (Protecting this capability means, once again, protecting institutions that constitute such forms of affiliation, and also protecting institutions that constitute such forms of affiliation, and also protecting the freedoms of  assembly and political speech.)  (b)  Having the social bases of self-respect and non-humiliation; being able to be treated as a dignified being whose worth is equal to that of others.  (This entails provisions of nondiscrimination.on the basis of race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, caste, ethnicity, or national origin)

8.Other species.  Being able to live with concern for and in relation to animals, plants, and the world of nature

9.Play.  Being able to laugh, to play, to enjoy recreational activities.

10.Control over one’s environment.  (a) Political: being able to participate effectively in political choices that govern one’s life; having the rights of political participation, free speech, and freedom of association (b) Material: being able to hold property (both land and movable goods); having the right to seek employment on an equal basis with others; having the freedom from unwarranted search and seizure. In work, being able to work as a human being, exercising practical reason and entering into meaningful relationships of mutual recognition with other workers.

(sources: From Sex and Social Justice. 1999: 41-2; Women and Human Development ,2000. p78-80.1.  Creating Capabilities, 2011: Ch 2)

How to promote capabilities and reduce harm ?





Life in a Day: 2011 film by Scott Ridley & Kevin McDonald

(July 24th 2010; 80,000 people & 4,500 hours reduced to 90 minutes).

Sliding Doors: 1998 film  by Peter Howitt

Stranger than Fiction : 2006 film by Marc Foster

Symbolic Interaction Methodologies

Herbert Blumer                     Symbolic Interactionism (1969) Prentice
Cathy Charmaz                                       Constructing Grounded Theory (2006) Sage

Norman Denzin &

Yvonna Lincoln eds                              Handbook of Qualitative Research (various editions) Sage

John Lofland, David Snow,
Leon Anderson & Lyn

H.Lofland                                                   Analyzing Social Settings (2006) 4th ed

Jaber Gubrium & James Holstein Analyzing Narrative Reality  (2009) Sage

Adele Clarke                                             Situational Analysis: Ground theory after the Postmodern Turn (2005 Sage )

Robert Prus                                               Symbolic Interaction & Ethnographic Research: Intersubjectivity and the Study of Human Lived Experience  (1996) SUNY

Generic Social Processes of Everyday Life Interaction

Erving Goffman                                       The Presentation of Everyday Life (1956; 1960) Penguin

John Lofland                                             Doing Social Life (1976) Wiley

John Lofland, David Snow,

Leon Anderson, Lyn H Lofland        Analysing Social Settings  (2006: 4th ed) Wadsworth
Robert Prus                                               Subcultural Mosaics and Intersubjective Realities (1997)  SUNY


Ian Wilkinson                                          Suffering: A Sociological Introduction (2005) Polity

Zygmunt Bauman                                  Wasted Lives: Modernity and Its outcasts (2004) Polity

———                                                           Collateral Damage (2011) Polity

Pierre Bourdieu et al                           Misery of the World/ The Weight of the World : social suffering in contemporary society   (1993)Polity

Rebecca Solnit                                          A Paradise Built in Hell (2009) Penguin





Foundational Normative Pragmatism

Richard J. Bernstein                              The Pragmatic Turn ( 2010) Polity
Ralph M Leck                                            Georg Simmel and Avant-Garde Sociology (2000) Humanity Books
Maurice Hamington                              The Social Philosophy of Jane Addams  2009  Illinois

Mary Jo Deegan                                                         Self, War and Society: George Herbert Mead’s Macrosociology

Filipe Carreira Da Silva                     Mead and Modernity: Science, Selfhood  and Democratic Politics  2008  Lexington

Louis Menand                                          The Metaphysical Club   2001  Flamingo

Steven Fesmire                                        John Dewey & Moral Imagination: Pragmatism in Ethics 2003 Indiana

William R.Caspary                                 Dewey on Democracy   2000 Cornell

Visions Of A Better World: Samples of Debates On Social Justice, Human Flourishing and Dialogues
Lukes, Steven                                           ‘Five Fables About  Human Rights’ in On Human Rights ed Stephen Shute and Susan Huxley (1993: Oxford)
Rorty, Richard (1989)                         Contingency, Irony, Solidarity. Cambridge

Amartya Sen                                             The Idea of Justice (2009) Allen Lane.

Michael Sandel                                       Justice: What’s the right thing to do? (2007/2009) Penguin
Iris Marion Young                                  Justice and the politics of difference (1990) Princeton

Nancy Fraser                                            The Scales of Justice
Arendt , Hannah                                                       The Human Condition

MacIntyre, Alastair (1984)                 After Virtue: A Study in Moral Reasoning. Oxford

Sam Harris                                                 The Moral Landscape:How Science Can Determine Human Values (2011) Bantham.

Lukes, Steven                                           Moral Relativism  2008 Profile 

Peter Singer                                              Writings on an Ethical Life  (2000) Harper Collins


Narratives as Moral & Political Imagination: Narrative Ethics, Grounded Moralities, Political Talers

Kay Schafer & Sidonie Smith            Human Rights and Narrated Lives (2004) Palgrave

Molly Andrews                                        Shaping history: Narratives of  political change (2007) Cambridge
Frank, Arthur W. (2004)                    The Renewal of Generosity: Illness, Medicine and How to Live. Chicago

———– (2010)                                       Letting Stories Breathe. Chicago

Lara, Maria P (1998)                           Moral Textures: Feminist Narratives in the Public Sphere. Cambridge: Polity

Noblit, George W. & Van O Dempsey The social construction of virtue: the moral life of schools (1996) SUNY.
Nelson, Hilde Lindemann ed (1997) Stories and their limits: Narrative approaches to bioethics. Routledge

Charles Tilly                                             Stories, identities and political change ( (2002) Rowman & Littlefield

Michael Jackson                                      The Politics of storytelling (2002) Museum Tusculanum Press
Arthur Kleinman                                    Writing at the edge: discourse between anthropology and medicine (1995) California

Rickie Sollinger et al                             Telling stories to change the world  (2008) Routledge

Joseph Davis                                             Stories of Change: Narrative and social movements  (2002) SUNY

Coles, Robert (1989)                            The Call of Stories : Teaching and the Moral Imagination. Boston: Houghton Mifflin

———– (2010)                                       Handing One Another Along: Literature and Social Reflection. NY: Random House


Dialogic Ethics and multiculturalism

Taylor, Charles  et al                             Multiculturalism: Examining the politics of recognition (1994) Princeton

Frank, Arthur                                           Letting Stories Breathe: A Socio-Narratology (2010)

Bakhtin, Michel                                       The Dialogic Imagination
Habermas, Jurgen                                  Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action (1992) Polity

Arnett, Ronald C. et al                          Communication Ethics, Literacy: Dialogue & Difference (2009) Sage
Benhabib, Seyla                                                        The Claims of Culture: Equality and diversity in the global era (2002)

Zygmunt Bauman                                  Postmodern Ethics (1999) Blackwell

Lois McNay                                                Against Recognition (2008) Polity

Kwame Anthony Appiah  The Ethics of Identity (2007) Princeton


Human Capabilities & The work of Martha Nussbaum

Martha Nussbaum                                 Creating Capabilities: the Human Development Approach  (2011) Harvard)

Nussbaum, Martha  (1997)              Cultivating Humanity.  (1997) Harvard

Martha Nussbaum                                 Women and human development (2000) Cambridge. Chapter1

Martha Bussbaum                                  Sex and social justice (1999) Oxford Chapter 1

For an interview with her, see Conversations with History: Martha Nussbaum on the Youtube at

See also:
Mitchell Aboulafia                                 The Cosmopolitan Self: George Hebert Mead and continental philosophy (2001) Illinois

Richard Rorty                                           ‘The Humanist Intellectual: Eleven Theses’  In Richard Rorty Philosophy and Social Hope (1999) Penguin

Rifkin, Jeremy                                          The Empathic Civilization: The race to global consciousness in a world of crisis (2009) Polity

Alexander, Jeffrey                                  The Civil Sphere  2006 Oxford University Press

Ken Plummer retired early in 2005 because of serious illness.  After a transplant in 2007, he made a good recovery and he remains deeply grateful to all those who saved his life – but especially his donor, ‘Kylie’ and her family. Below is a sample of Ken’s recent work that is most relevant

Plummer, Ken                                          Documents of Life-2 : An Invitation to a Critical Humanism. London Sage 2001

————–                                                   Intimate Citizenship: Private Decisions and Public Dialogues (2003) University of Washington Press

————                                                      ‘Intimate Citizenship in an Unjust World’  in Mary Romero & Eric Margolis ed The Blackwell Companion to Social Inequalities. Blackwell. 2005: p75-100

————                                                      ‘ “ A Quiet Catharsis of Comprehension”: A Poetic for Paul’  Symbolic Interaction: vol 32, no 3  p174-6 (2009)

———–                                      ‘Subterranean Traditions Rising: The Year That Enid Blyton Died’  in Gurminder Bhambra & Ipek Demir eds.  1968 in Retropspect.   Palgrave MacmIllan. p43-56

—————–                                               ‘The Social Reality of Sexual Rights’ in  Peter Aggleton & Richard Parker eds Routledge                                 Handbook of Sexuality, Health and Rights. 2010. Routledge . p p45-55

————                                                      ‘Generational Sexualities, Subterranean Traditions & The hauntings of the Sexual World’ Symbolic Interaction. Vol 33, No 2 2020 pp163-191

————                                                      Sociology: The Basics Ch  8. 2010. Routledge



















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