Solitary Action: Acting on Our Own in Everyday Life

Hardcover | November 16, 2015

byIra J. Cohen

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From a private nature walk to an engrossing novel, humans spend a vast amount of time engaged in solitary activities. However, despite the fact that individual activities are a prevalent part of everyday life, most scholarly research has been devoted to social interaction rather than solitaryaction. Ira Cohen's Solitary Action fills this intellectual void, identifying and discussing four basic forms of individual action: peripatetics, engrossments, regimens, and reflexives. Cohen explores the differences and similarities among the forms, specifically delving into the structural contrast betweenbehaviors with rigid constraints, such as the game of solitaire, and behaviors which require creativity and spontaneity, such as a solo jazz improvisation. Lucid and relatable, Solitary Action links its arguments with examples from literature, personal narrative, and daily life, shedding light uponthe understated significance of individual activities. The book concludes with a discussion of extensive retreats into solitude for religious, aesthetic, and self-restorative experiences, including examples from Thomas Merton and Henry David Thoreau.Ultimately, Cohen's findings promise to inspire new inquiries into the nature of social behavior by opening a new domain of everyday activities to the attention previously reserved for social interaction.

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From a private nature walk to an engrossing novel, humans spend a vast amount of time engaged in solitary activities. However, despite the fact that individual activities are a prevalent part of everyday life, most scholarly research has been devoted to social interaction rather than solitaryaction. Ira Cohen's Solitary Action fills th...

Ira J. Cohen is on the faculty in Sociology at Rutgers University in Newark and the Graduate Program in Sociology at New Brunswick. His publications include Structuration Theory: Anthony Giddens and the Constitution of Social Life (Macmillan, 1989) as well as numerous articles and essays on classical and contemporary social theory. He ...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:240 pages, 8.31 × 5.79 × 0.51 inPublished:November 16, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0190258578

ISBN - 13:9780190258573

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements1. Introduction2. Why the Invisibility of Solitary Action?3. The Elements of Solitary Action4. Forms of Solitary Action: Peripatetics, Regimens, Engrossments5. Forms of Solitary Action: Reflexives6. Epilogues: The Three Islands of SolitudeBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

"This is a quirky book with some really great insights into how sociologists can think about and analyze the things people do when they are by themselves. Ira Cohen is absolutely right that sociologists' mental models of human behavior always involve them in interaction with others when, inreality, most people spend a huge chunk of their time by themselves." --Stephen Vaisey, Associate Professor of Sociology, Duke University