On Symbols and Society

ISBN-10: 0226080781
ISBN-13: 9780226080789
Edition: 1989 (Reprint)
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Description: Kenneth Burke's innovative use of dramatism and dialectical method have made him a powerful critical force in an extraordinary variety of disciplines--education, philosophy, history, psychology, religion, and others. While most widely acclaimed as a  More...

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Book details

List price: $31.00
Copyright year: 1989
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 7/15/1989
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 342
Size: 6.25" wide x 9.25" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 1.034
Language: English

Kenneth Burke's innovative use of dramatism and dialectical method have made him a powerful critical force in an extraordinary variety of disciplines--education, philosophy, history, psychology, religion, and others. While most widely acclaimed as a literary critic, Burke has elaborated a perspective toward the study of behavior and society that holds immense significance and rich insights for sociologists. This original anthology brings together for the first time Burke's key writings on symbols and social relations to offer social scientists access to Burke's thought. In his superb introductory essay, Joseph R. Gusfield traces the development of Burke's approach to human action and its relationship to other similar sources of theory and ideas in sociology; he discusses both Burke's influence on sociologists and the limits of his perspective. Burke regards literature as a form of human behavior--and human behavior as embedded in language. His lifework represents a profound attempt to understand the implications for human behavior based on the fact that humans are "symbol-using animals." As this volume demonstrates, the work that Burke produced from the 1930s through the 1960s stands as both precursor and contemporary key to recent intellectual movements such as structuralism, symbolic anthropology, phenomenological and interpretive sociology, critical theory, and the renaissance of symbolic interaction.

Born in Pittsburgh, Burke was educated at Ohio State and Columbia universities. During his early career, he became involved with a number of little magazines, including Broom and Secession. He also wrote for The Dial and The Nation as a music critic. His greatest fame, however, has been as a literary critic. Omnivorously eclectic, Burke has found in the analysis of human symbolic activities a key to the largest cultural issues. For Burke, literature is the most prominent and sophisticated form of "symbolic action," one that provides "equipment for living" by allowing us to try out hypothetical strategies for dealing with the endless variety of human situations and experiences. Human society demands some principle of order, but the language and reason that create order can fall into rigid abstractions that can be destructive and violently imposed. Literature shows us an image of sacrifice, forgiveness, and flexibility that plays an important role in keeping society functioning flexibly. Burke's writing is extensive, complex and wide ranging, but also unique and uniquely important among current critical approaches.

Acknowledgments
Introduction
The Form of Social Action
The Nature of Human Action
The Human Actor: Definition of Man
Language as Symbolic Action
Symbolic Action
Types of Meaning: Semantic and Poetic Meaning
The Symbol as Formative
Language as Action: Terministic Screens
Motives as Action
Dramatistic Analysis
Dramatistic Method
Ways of Placement
Vocabularies of Motive
Rhetorical Action
Identification
Terms of Rhetoric
Rhetorical Analysis
Dialectical Method
The Paradox of Substance
Irony and Dialectic
Perspective by Incongruity: Comic Correctives
The Transformation of Terms
Transcendence
Symbols and the Social Order
Order and Hierarchy
Terms for Order
Sin and Redemption
Ideology and Myth References in Burke
Readings Bibliography
Index

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