Pragmatics is the study of how language functions in social contexts. It is a subfield of linguistics and philosophy.
The history of pragmatism dates back to discussions amongst a group of philosophers, lawyers and psychologists in Harvard around 1870. In the later nineteenth century, two of its leading figures were Charles Peirce and William James.
The earliest pragmatists concentrated on inquiry, meaning and the nature of truth. A second generation focused on theorising political, education and other dimensions of social improvement under the influence of John Dewey and Jane Addams.