This volume presents the reader with a stimulating rich tapestry of essays exploring the nature of action and intentionality, and discussing their role in human development. As the contributions make clear, action is an integrative concept that forms the bridge between our psychological, biological, and sociocultural worlds. Action is also integrative in the sense of entailing motivational, emotional, and cognitive systems, and this integration too is well represented in the chapters. Action is defined, and distinguished from behavior, according to its intentional quality. Thus, a constantly recurring theme in the volume involves the dialectic of action-intentionality, and specifically the questions of how and when these concepts are to be distinguished.
Chapter 4: Freedom Isn't Free: Power, Alienation, and the Consequences of Action
Freedom Isn't Free: Power, Alienation, and the Consequences of Action
Intentional Action: “Real” and “Ideal”
The reality of intentional human action is that it is largely hyperhabituated, unreflective, and routinized, and that it reproduces existing structures, both personal and social. For the most part, human action has nothing to do with personal or relational change in any deliberate and planful sense and is alienated from its own consequences. Its efficacy, rationality, and volition are open to question.
This appraisal—inevitable when the matter is viewed from a social-constitutive perspective—is at considerable variance with the thematic terms in which action is often described in the social and behavioral sciences: agency, volition, rationality, planfulness, personally directed change, reflectiveness, [Page 106]control (Brandtstädter, ...