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Action recognition is one of the most active research fields in computer vision. In this paper, we propose a novel method for classifying human actions in a series of image sequences containing certain actions. Human action in image sequences can be recognized by a time-varying contour of human body. We first extract shape context of each contour to form the feature space. Then the dominant sets approach is used for feature clustering and classification to obtain the labeled sequences. Finally, we use a smoothing algorithm upon the labeled sequences to recognize human actions. The proposed dominant sets-based approach has been tested in comparison to three classical methods: K-means, mean shift, and fuzzy-C-mean. Experimental results demonstrate that the dominant sets-based approach achieves the best recognition performance. Moreover, our method is robust to non-rigid deformations, significant scale changes, high action irregularities, and low quality video.