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Knowledge production and social inquiry
Editors: Jane Wills and Robert W. Lake

This book makes the case for a pragmatist approach to the practice of social inquiry and knowledge production. Through diverse examples from multiple disciplines, contributors explore the power of pragmatism to inform a practice of inquiry that is democratic, community-centred, problem-oriented and experimental. Drawing from both classical and neo-pragmatist perspectives, the book advances a pragmatist sensibility in which truth and knowledge are contingent rather than universal, made rather than found, provisional rather than dogmatic, subject to continuous experimentation rather than ultimate proof and verified in their application in action rather than in the accuracy of their representation of an antecedent reality. The power of pragmatism offers a path forward for mobilizing the practice of inquiry in social research, exploring the implications of pragmatism for the process of knowledge production.

Etienne Brasil and Brazilian engagement with Armenia, 1912–22
Heitor Loureiro

small and distant country like Armenia seem relevant in Brazil in the 1910s and 1920s, Brasil and his allies deployed a combination of pragmatism and humanitarianism to convince wider society and political decision-makers that supporting the Armenian cause would be in their mutual interest. In the aftermath of the Genocide their aims were partially realised as, under the leadership of Epitácio Pessoa, the Brazilian government began use the Armenian cause as a means of strengthening Brazilian participation and leadership into global governance at the League of Nations

in Aid to Armenia
Clive Barnett

Whenever a dispute is serious, we ought to be able to show some practical difference that must follow from one side or the other being right. William James, Pragmatism: A new name for some old ways of thinking The uses of Pragmatism The essays in The power of pragmatism draw on the canon of first-generation Pragmatist thinkers, primarily John Dewey, alongside William James and George Herbert Mead, as well as on Richard Rorty’s more recent iconoclastic anti-representational pragmatist revivalism. One might ask, however, in what respects the

in The power of pragmatism
Going beyond a communicative approach 
Ihnji Jon

not expect or envision a specific type of future. Its concern, rather, is on the contextual experience of ‘what to do’ in the here and now. What planners have in mind is a set of practices and orientation, not one eventual end point. This chapter argues that pragmatism has much to offer contemporary planning theory and practice and in what follows I discuss the influence of pragmatism on contemporary planning thought and introduce a new reading of pragmatist planning that can enhance theory and practice in future. Contemporary planning theory has been dominated by

in The power of pragmatism
An interview with Eamonn McKee
Graham Spencer

This chapter highlights the value of pragmatism in a peace process and how the contentious areas of parading and policing and justice were managed. The chapter also looks at the Bloody Sunday Inquiry and the role of pragmatism in dealing with these complex and conflicting areas.

in Inside Accounts, Volume II
Leeds Jewish tailors and Leeds Jewish tailoring trade unions, 1876–1915
Anne J. Kershen

came together in 1915 to provide an example of unity in an interdenominational national union. It was a template not emulated by the majority of Jewish tailoring workers in London, where only the members of the London Jewish Tailors’ and Tailoresses’ Union affiliated to the new clothing workers’ union. The chapter will seek to determine whether the trade unionism manifested by the Leeds Jewish tailoring workers was borne out of ideological conviction or economic pragmatism. Finally, it will evaluate the factors that led to the successful organisation of the Leeds

in Leeds and its Jewish Community
Jeremy Tranmer

8 The decline of revolutionary pragmatism and the splintering of British communism in the 1980s Jeremy Tranmer Introduction The 1980s were a particularly difficult period for the British labour movement. Its political wing, the Labour Party, experienced a series of electoral reversals, while trade unions suffered significant industrial defeats. The labour movement as a whole faced falling membership. It was also a time of severe divisions. The internal ructions of the Labour Party in the 1980s have been well documented, but parties and groups to its left were

in Labour united and divided from the 1830s to the present
Owain Jones

this is to say that modernism is an anti-ecological form of knowledge both in its impact on ecology – or the three ecologies set out by Félix Guattari (2000, and see below) – and in its reductive stances. Pragmatism and related non-representational approaches, in contrast, are potentially ecological forms of knowledge that embrace the interconnectivity of all things and have an evolutionary understanding of how the earth and cosmos advance through space-time in a burgeoning becoming of which they are part. In this chapter, I seek to highlight the links between

in The power of pragmatism
James Baldwin’s Pragmatist Politics in The Fire Next Time
Courtney D Ferriter

In The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin argues that the American dream is far from being a reality in part because there is much Americans do not wish to know about themselves. Given the current political climate in the United States, this idea seems just as timely as it did in the 1960s. Baldwin’s politics and thinking about race and religion are informed by an optimistic belief in the human capacity to love and change for the better, in contrast with Ta-Nehisi Coates, the heir apparent to Baldwin’s legacy. Considering current events, it seems particularly useful to turn back to The Fire Next Time. Not only does Baldwin provide a foundation for understanding racism in the United States, but more importantly, he provides some much-needed hope and guidance for the future. Baldwin discusses democracy as an act that must be realized, in part by coming to a greater understanding of race and religion as performative acts that have political consequences for all Americans. In this article, I examine the influence of pragmatism on Baldwin’s understanding of race and religion. By encouraging readers to acknowledge race and religion as political constructs, Baldwin highlights the inseparability of theory and practice that is a hallmark of both pragmatism and the realization of a democratic society. Furthermore, I argue that Baldwin’s politics provide a more useful framework than Coates’s for this particular historical moment because of Baldwin’s emphasis on change and evolving democracy.

James Baldwin Review
Open Access (free)
James Baldwin’s Pragmatist Aesthetics
Rohan Ghatage

This essay establishes a philosophical connection between James Baldwin and the philosopher William James by investigating how the pragmatist protocol against “vicious intellectualism” offers Baldwin a key resource for thinking through how anti-black racism might be dismantled. While Richard Wright had earlier denounced pragmatism for privileging experience over knowledge, and thereby offering the black subject no means for redressing America’s constitutive hierarchies, uncovering the current of Jamesian thought that runs through Baldwin’s essays brings into view his attempt to move beyond epistemology as the primary framework for inaugurating a future unburdened by the problem of the color line. Although Baldwin indicts contemporaneous arrangements of knowledge for producing the most dehumanizing forms of racism, he does not simply attempt to rewrite the enervating meanings to which black subjects are given. Articulating a pragmatist sensibility at various stages of his career, Baldwin repeatedly suggests that the imagining and creation of a better world is predicated upon rethinking the normative value accorded to knowledge in the practice of politics. The provocative challenge that Baldwin issues for his reader is to cease the well-established privileging of knowledge, and to instead stage the struggle for freedom within an aesthetic, rather than epistemological, paradigm.

James Baldwin Review