Habits of social inquiry and reconstruction 
A Deweyan vision of democracy and social research 
in The power of pragmatism
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Social scientists have begun to re-evaluate and incorporate some of pragmatist John Dewey’s insights into their work. This chapter explores the role of habit in John Dewey’s understanding of human psychology and culture, opening up connections to his associated ideas of embodiment, imagination, inquiry and community, all of which are central to his concept of democracy. The formation, implementation and modification of habits – whether viewed as individual-level, community-level or cultural-level – are central to the problem of adept democratic activity and social functioning. After explaining Dewey’s meaning of, and emphasis on, habit and its correlates, I suggest how time, culture, place and criticism are important considerations within Dewey’s vision of democracy and inquiry. In the closing section of the chapter, I turn to the more applied side of the matter and sketch out some potential implications of these ideas for doing social research and for social science as part of the university that engages in community life.

The power of pragmatism

Knowledge production and social inquiry

Editors: Jane Wills and Robert W. Lake


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