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'We must put ourselves in the position of the subject who tries to find his way in this world, and we must remember, first of all, that the environment by which he is influenced and to which he adapts himself is his world, not the objective world of science.'

W.I. Thomas
and
F. Znaniecki

Qualitative Sociology Review
2009
Volume V Issue 2


Author-Supplied Abstracts & Keywords


J. Patrick Williams
     Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Community, Frame of Reference, and Boundary: Three Sociological Concepts and their Relevance for Virtual Worlds Research

Virtual-worlds research is a dynamic and growing interdisciplinary area in the social sciences and humanities. Sociological theory can play an important role in how virtual worlds are conceptualized and studied. Drawing on data from ethnographic projects on two distinct types of virtual worlds, an asynchronous text-based internet forum and a massively-multiplayer online game, I consider what social and cultural similarities these two types of virtual worlds have with one another, despite their radically different forms and functions. My comparative analysis is framed in terms of three questions. First, are virtual worlds temporary and/or intentional communities? Second, what are the frames of reference through which virtual-world communities are built? Third, how do boundaries function in virtual worlds? My discussion suggests some of the common social and cultural features of virtual worlds.

Keywords:
Massively-multiplayer online game (MMO); Online community; Straight edge; Subculture; Videogame; World of Warcraft
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Robert Prus
     University of Waterloo, Canada
Richard G. Mitchell, Jr.
     Oregon State University, USA

Engaging Technology: A Missing Link in the Sociological Study of Human Knowing and Acting

Whereas technology has been the focus of much discourse in both public theatres and sociological arenas, comparatively little attention has been given to the study of the ways that people actually deal with technology as realms of human knowing and acting.
Working from a symbolic interactionist perspective (Mead 1934; Blumer 1969) and drawing on classical Greek scholarship as well as some interim sources, this paper addresses technology as a humanly engaged process.
Attending to human group life as "something in the making" and focusing on the activities entailed in encountering, using, developing, promoting, obtaining, and resisting instances of technology, this paper outlines a research agenda intended to foster situated (i.e. ethnographic) examinations of technologically-engaged, humanly enacted realities. It also serves as a reference point for assembling and comparing studies of the technology process that deal with this set of activities.

Keywords:
Technology; Science; Sociology; Theory; Ethnography; Community; Pragmatism; Symbolic Interaction; Constructionism; Activity; Process
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Malin Åkerström
     Lund University, Sweden
Katarina Jacobsson
     Lund University, Sweden

Expressing and Examining Morality in Everyday Life: Social Comparisons among Swedish Parents of Deaf Children

Social comparisons, seeing oneself in relation to others, are universal, common, and perhaps even necessary. In a study of parents of deaf children, intense, open, and mutual examinations were voiced in parental groups, meetings between parents and professionals, and interviews. These comparisons were generated in a specific situation created by successful claims for separate milieus advocated by the Deaf movement. The local culture, “the deaf world,” was characterized by close proximity and a highly charged ideological moral climate. With the central argument that strong integration breeds comparisons and examinations, we conclude that the integration of parents creates a situation perfect for drawing comparisons, creating not only cohesion, but also renewed separatist distinctions, expressed in terms of moral examinations, competition and envy. Studying the content and details of comparisons in any given field makes the particular morality that is bred, fed, and elaborated obvious.

Keywords:
Integration; Social comparisons; Morality; Everyday life; Identity work; Deaf culture; Hard-of-hearing; Sign language; Sweden
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D. Mark Austin
    University of Louisville, USA

Ritual and Boundary Distinction in a Recreational Community: A Case Study of Motorcycle Rallies and Riders

Attending motorcycle rallies is an important component of social life for many touring motorcyclists. The significance of these events transcends the mere recreational experience of riding a motorcycle and spending time with other riders. This project is an examination of brand specific motorcycle rallies as a process and social world that has ritualistic features and activities that serve to bond members of the group, reinforce their identity, and distinguish members of this subculture from other motorcyclists and from the larger social world. Drawing on classical social theory and more contemporary research, a framework is established to discuss the activities and social organization of rallies. Objects from the material culture of those involved are examined as distinguishing components used to establish boundaries and confer membership. An in depth description of rally activities and interactions, enhances the understanding of these events.

Keywords:
Recreation; Ethnography; Motorcycling; Ritual
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