This book offers answers to some of the fundamental questions regarding how our visions of humans shape our theories of social action and institutions. It ultimately presumes that the animals called human beings share an identifiable and peculiar set of capacities and proclivities that distinguishes them significantly from other animals on this planet. Despite the vast differences in humanity between cultures and across history, no matter how differently people narrate their lives and histories, there remains an underlying structure of human personhood that helps to order human culture, history, and narration. A second theme that emerges is that too much recent theorizing about culture and action in sociology has been very unhelpfully beset by overreactions against real but correctable flaws and over simplifications in previous theories.
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