The Not So Common Sense: Differences in How People Judge Social and Political Life

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Yale University Press, Oct 1, 2008 - Political Science - 448 pages
divdivIn this fascinating interdisciplinary book, Shawn W. Rosenberg challenges two basic assumptions that orient much contemporary social scientific thinking. Offering theory and empirical research, he rejects the classic liberal view that people share a basic “common sense” or rationality. At the same time, he questions the view of contemporary social theory that meaning is simply an intersubjective or cultural product.

Through in-depth interviews, Rosenberg explores the underlying logic of cognition. Rather than discovering a common sense or rationality, he finds that people reason in fundamentally different ways, and these differences affect the kind of understandings they craft and the evaluations they make. As a result, people actively reconstruct culturally prevalent meanings and norms in their own subjective terms. Rosenberg provides a comprehensive description of three types of socio-political reasoning and the full text of three exemplary interviews.

Rosenberg’s findings help explain such puzzling social phenomena as why people do not learn even when it is to their advantage to do so, or why they fail to adapt to changed social conditions even when they have clear information and motivation. The author argues that this kind of failure is commonplace and discusses examples ranging from the crisis of modernity to the classroom performance of university students. Building on the ideas of Jean Piaget, George Herbert Mead, and Jurgen Habermas, Rosenberg offers a new orienting vision, structural pragmatics, to account for these social phenomena and his own research in cognition. In the concluding chapter, he discusses the implications of his work for the study of social cognition, political behavior, and democratic theory.


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Chapter One Postmodernity Not Learning and the Not So Common Sense
Chapter Two A Structural Pragmatic Social Psychology
Chapter Three Linear Thinking
Chapter Four Systematic Thinking
Chapter Five Sequential Thinking
Chapter Six Epistemology Methodology and Research Design
Julie Barbara and Bill
Chapter Eight Overview and Concluding Remarks

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About the author (2008)

SHAWN W. ROSENBERG is Professor and Director of the Graduate Program in Political Psychology at the University of California, Irvine, USA. His work focuses on political cognition, communication and democratic citizenship. A recipient of the ISPP Erikson Award for Early Career Achievement, Rosenberg has also written three prize winning books: "Political Reasoning and Cognition" (with D. Ward and S. Chilton), "Reason, Ideology and Politics" and "The Not So Common Sense,

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