Common Sense as a Paradigm of Thought: An Analysis of Social Interaction, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Common Sense as a Paradigm of Thought

An Analysis of Social Interaction, 1st Edition

By Tim Delaney


250 pages

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pub: 2018-11-15
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The notion of common sense and abiding by its implications is something that, seemingly, everyone agrees is a good way of making behavioral decisions and conducting one's daily activities. This holds true whether one is a liberal, moderate, or conservative; young or old; and regardless of one's race and ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation. If utilizing common sense is such a good idea, why then, do so many people seem to violate it? This is just one of many significant questions surrounding the idea of common sense explored and discussed in this book.

This volume presents common sense as a ‘paradigm of thought’ and as such, compares it to other major categories of thought — tradition, faith, enlightened and rational. Combining a balance of practical, everyday approaches (through the use of popular culture references and featured boxes) and academic analysis of core and conceptual methodological issues, Delaney demonstrates:


  • The limitations of common sense and its place in everyday social interactions
  • How we learn about common sense
  • Why common sense is so important


Common Sense as a Paradigm of Thought introduces readers to a rich variety of sociological authors and will appeal to students and researchers interested in fields such as: sociology, philosophy, social psychology, cultural studies, communications and health studies.



Table of Contents

Chapter 1: An Introduction to the Notion of Common Sense

Introductory Story

It's a Matter of Common Sense

To Purchase, Or Not to Purchase: Which Option is Common Sense?

Is the Earth Flat or Round: What Does Common Sense Tell Us?

Staring at the Sun: Common Sense Tells Us Not to Do It (Even if there is a Rare Eclipse)

The Study of Common Sense: A Focus on the Everyday Interactions of Individuals

Popular Culture Box 1: Learning Common Sense from Popular Culture


Chapter 2: Common Sense as a Paradigm of Thought

Introductory Story

Paradigms of Thought: How Social Order Should Be Structured


Tradition: The First Paradigm of Thought

Ancient Traditions

Middle Ages Traditions

Modern Traditions


Faith: The Second Paradigm of Thought


Past Monarchies, Royalty, and the Divine Rights of Kings

Modern Monarchies

Enlightened, Rational Thought

Enlightened, Rational Thought: The Third Paradigm of Thought

The Age of Enlightenment

Science and Technology in the Contemporary Era

The Conservative Reaction to Enlightened, Rational Thought

Common Sense

Common Sense: The Fourth Paradigm of Thought

Popular Culture Box 2: "How Can Scientific Truth Be Hearsay?"—Dr. Zira, chimpanzee animal psychologist from the original Planet of the Apes (1968)



Chapter 3: Explaining Common Sense: From the Ancient Greeks to the Early Twentieth Century

Introductory Story

Examining Common Sense

The Ancient Greeks and Modern Philosophy: Common Sense and Skepticism

Ancient Greek Skepticism

Modern Philosophy and Skepticism: Rene Descartes and David Hume

Thomas Reid and Common Sense

G.E. Moore: Refutation of Skepticism and the Promotion of Common Sense

Bertrand Russell and Common Sense

Thomas Paine and Common Sense

Karl Marx, Conflict Theory and Common Sense

Max Weber, Rationality and Common Sense

C. Wright Mills, Situated Actions and Vocabularies of Motives and Common Sense

Symbolic Interactionism, Social Action and Common Sense

William James, Pragmatism, Habits, and Consciousness

Charles Horton Cooley, Symbols, Language, and Social Interaction

George Herbert Mead, Pragmatism, the Social Act, Gestures, and Language

Herbert Blumer, Meanings, Language, Gestures, and Social Action

Erving Goffman, The Presentation of Self and Common Sense

Phenomenology and Common Sense

Edmund Husserl, The Rudiments of Common Sense

Alfred Schutz, The Life-World, Stocks of Knowledge and Common Sense

Peter Berger, The Social Construction of Reality and Common Sense

Ethnomethodology and the Commonsense World

Harold Garfinkel, Taken-for-Granted World, Accounts and the Commonsense World

Popular Culture Box 3: "The Heresy of Heresies was Common Sense"—George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four


Chapter 4: Explaining Common Sense: From the Early Twentieth Century to the Postmodern Era


Contemporary Scholarship in the Study of Common Sense

Hermeneutic Phenomenology and Common Sense

Martin Heidegger

Hans-Georg Gadamer

Paul Ricoeur

Cornelius Castoriadis

Antonio Gramsci and Common Sense

Jurgen Habermas and Common Sense

Immanuel Wallerstein and Common Sense

Anthony Giddens, Structuration Theory and Common Sense

Randall Collins, Interaction Ritual Chains and Common Sense

McDonnell, Bail and Tavory, Resonance Theory and Common Sense

Feminism and Post-feminism and Common Sense

Postmodernism and Common Sense

Posthumanism and Transhumanism


Popular Culture Box 4: Posthumanism and the Rise of Machines


Chapter 5: Learning About and Adhering to Common Sense

Introductory Story

Common Sense Is Learned Behavior

The Socialization Process: A Critical Aspect of Learning About Common Sense

Primary Groups

Agents of Socialization

Cyber Socialization and Social Media

Observation and Personal Experience

The Development of Enlightened Rational Thought and Reason

Social Theoretical Explanations on How We Learn and Common Sense

Social Learning Theory

Symbolic Interactionism

Subcultural Theory

Anomie/Strain Theory

Differential Association Theory

Labeling Theory

Control/Social Bond Theory

Adhering to Common Sense

Common Sense

Common, Common Sense

Popular Culture Box 5: "Robots Lack Common Sense, But They Will Shape Future Employment"


Chapter 6: Violating Common Sense: Uncommon Sense

Introductory Story

Impediments to Common Sense:

Failure to Learn

The Lack of a Formal Higher Education

Overly Emotional and Irrational Fear

Believing in Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstitions and Other Oddities

Ignorance and Stupidity

People Doing Dumb and Stupid Things: The Award Goes To…

Darwin Awards

Stella Awards

Dumb Criminals

Not Adhering to Common Sense

Uncommon Sense: It's Bad for Our Health

Common, Uncommon Sense

Popular Culture Box 6: "If Seemingly Every Decision You Make in Life Turns Out to Be a Matter of Uncommon Sense, Do the Opposite!"


Chapter 7: Can Common Sense Rise as the Prevailing Paradigm of Thought?

Introductory Story

Common Sense in Review

The Limitations of Common Sense

Enlightened, Rational Thought Should be the Prevailing Paradigm of Thought

Popular Culture Box 7: "Testing Your Common Sense"



About the Author

Tim Delaney is a professor of sociology at the State University of New York at Oswego, USA

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Social and Political Thought

This series explores core issues in political philosophy and social theory. Addressing theoretical subjects of both historical and contemporary relevance, the series has broad appeal across the social sciences. Contributions include new studies of major thinkers, key debates and critical concepts.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General