The turning point in the growth of a genuinely scientific social psychology, marked by the publication of "The Explanation of Social Behaviour", by R. Harre and P.F. Secord, was the realization of the pointlessness of most attempts at an experimental study of social action. Further development of the original insights has led to much deeper interest in the structure of social events and the meanings of which they are composed. This interest has led to theoretical advances and novel empirical investigations. If social psychology is a nodal point for the sciences of man, it has been as singularly blind to the need for an explicit examination of the social conditions of action, and the methods by which they could be explored, as it has been to the need for a theory of persons with which to investigate the ways an individual can act as a competent member of a collective. "Social Being" is an attempt to remedy these deficiencies in a systematic manner. However, explicit attention to the social settings of human action brings to light the almost wholly neglected temporal dimension of individual lives and changing societies.
A theoretical framework for investigating this dimension is laid out in detail supported by wide ranging empirical observations. The work is rounded off with a brief exposition of the political consequences of taking the ethogenic approach to psychology, an approach in which men are seen as acting along two major dimensions: practical reason directs their actions towards the maintenance of life, while the demands of the expressive dimension prompt them to act in such ways as to promote other images of the selves they hope to be taken to be. The book is aimed at advanced undergraduates and above in social psychology, philosophy of psychology and theoretical psychology.
The problem of social being; people in groups; people in action; methods of research - alternatives to the experiment; the uses of Models I - social action as problem solving; the uses of Models II - social action as drama and as work; practical and expressive orders; individual lives as social trajectories; social change and the evolution of rules; the social psychology of political activity.