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Solitary ActionActing on Our Own in Everyday Life$
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Ira J. Cohen

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190258573

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190258573.001.0001

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The Elements of Solitary Action

The Elements of Solitary Action

(p.61) Chapter 3 The Elements of Solitary Action
Solitary Action

Ira J. Cohen

Oxford University Press

This is the first of three chapters that develops a sociological understanding of solitary action. This chapter develops a frame of reference that identifies the basic elements of solitary action. The basic elements include the contextual reflexivity of solitary action, the engaging qualities of solitary action, and several cultural and moral constraints on solitary action. These elements center on sequences of action as well as the influence of moral codes during the performance of solitary actions. The discussion begins with two extended illustrative examples that are threaded through the chapter at large. The first example provides a move-by-move description of how the game of solitaire is played. The second draws upon work by David Sudnow to describe the sequences of moves involved in jazz improvisation. These examples bring to life the analysis of solitary action presented throughout the remainder of the chapter.

Keywords:   action, solitaire, jazz improvisation, context, reflexivity, constraint

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