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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
2010
Volume VI Issue 3


Author-Supplied Abstracts & Keywords


Robert Prus
     University of Waterloo, Canada
Matthew Burk
     University of Waterloo, Canada

Ethnographic Trailblazers: Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon

While ethnographic research is often envisioned as a 19th or 20th century development in the social sciences (Wax, 1971; Prus, 1996), a closer examination of the classical Greek literature (circa 700-300BCE) reveals at least three authors from this era whose works have explicit and extended ethnographic qualities. Following a consideration of “what constitutes ethnographic research,” specific attention is given to the texts developed by Herodotus (c484-425BCE), Thucydides (c460-400BCE), and Xenophon (c430-340BCE). Classical Greek scholarship pertaining to the study of the human community deteriorated notably following the death of Alexander the Great (c384-323BCE) and has never been fully approximated over the intervening centuries. Thus, it is not until the 20th century that sociologists and anthropologists have more adequately rivaled the ethnographic materials developed by these early Greek scholars. Still, there is much to be learned from these earlier sources and few contemporary social scientists appear cognizant of (a) the groundbreaking nature of the works of Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon and (b) the obstacles that these earlier ethnographers faced in developing their materials. Also, lacking awareness of (c) the specific materials that these scholars developed, there is little appreciation of the particular life-worlds depicted therein or (d) the considerable value of their texts as ethnographic resources for developing more extended substantive and conceptual comparative analysis.

Keywords:
Ethnography; Classical Greek; Herodotus; Thucydides; Xenophon; Symbolic Interaction; Anthropology; History; Pragmatism; Generic Social Process
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Robert Prus
     University of Waterloo, Canada
Fatima Camara
     University of Waterloo, Canada

Love, Friendship, and Disaffection in Plato and Aristotle: Toward a Pragmatist Analysis of Interpersonal Relationships

Although much overlooked by social scientists, a considerable amount of the classical Greek literature (circa700-300BCE) revolves around human relationships and, in particular, the matters of friendship, love and disaffection. Providing some of the earliest sustained literature on people's relations with others, the poets Homer (circa 700BCE) and Hesiod (circa 700BCE) not only seem to have stimulated interest in these matters, but also have provided some more implicit, contextual reference points for people embarked on the comparative analysis of human relations. Still, some other Greek authors, most notably including Plato and Aristotle, addressed these topics in explicitly descriptive and pointedly analytical terms. Plato and Aristotle clearly were not of one mind in the ways they approached, or attempted to explain, human relations. Nevertheless, contemporary social scientists may benefit considerably from closer examinations of these sources. Thus, while acknowledging some structuralist theories of attraction (e.g., that similars or opposites attract), the material considered here focus more directly on the problematic, deliberative, enacted, and uneven features of human association. In these respects, Plato and Aristotle may be seen not only to lay the foundations for a pragmatist study of friendship, love, and disaffection, but also to provide some exceptionally valuable materials with which to examine affective relations in more generic, transhistorical terms.

Keywords:
Love; Friendship; Affection; Interpersonal Relations; Plato; Aristotle; Classical Greek; Pragmatism; Symbolic Interaction
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Robert Sévigny
     University of Montreal, Canada
Sheying Chen
     Indiana University, USA
Elaina Y. Chen
     Indiana University School of Medicine, USA

Explanatory Models of Illness and Psychiatric Rehabilitation: A Clinical Sociology Approach

The notion of explanatory models of illness (EMI) epitomizes the theme of social representation in social psychiatry. This article illustrates a clinical sociology approach to the subject by revisiting the seminal work of Kleinman and reflecting on the use of EMI in studying severe mental illnesses, particularly in China. A general literature review is provided to show the complexity of the subject, and the work of clinical sociologist Sévigny over the past two decades is summarized. A case analysis is conducted to illuminate the many social factors that came to play in affecting the experiences and perceptions of schizophrenic patients and their significant others in the nation’s capital Beijing in the 1990s. Diverse “explanations” in the experience of schizophrenia are explored, including the medical, the psychogenic, and the psychosocial models, among such others as inheritance and religious beliefs. Implications for research and clinical practice are discussed, including extending EMI study beyond illness interpretation to emphasize social rehabilitation.
Keywords:
Explanatory Models of Illness (EMI); Social Psychiatry; Clinical Sociology; Rehabilitation of Schizophrenia; Case Study in China
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Asta Rau
    Rhodes University and University of Free State, South Africa
Jan K. Coetzee
     University of Free State, South Africa
Amy Vice
     Rhodes University, South Africa

Narrating student life in a time of risk

Students speaking to students reveal how they perceive and experience risk — and specifically, risk associated with HIV — during their years attending a small university in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. Data were collected in twenty focus group discussions that spanned two years and two cycles of an action research project designed to infuse HIV/AIDS-content/issues into a closely supervised third-year Sociology research methodology course. The project was undertaken in response to a call by HEAIDS (Higher Education HIV/AIDS Programme, funded by the EU) for universities to address HIV/AIDS in curricula. The intention is to prepare young graduates to respond meaningfully to HIV and AIDS when they enter the world of work in a country with alarmingly high levels of HIV prevalence and incidence. Insights from theorists Ulrich Beck (1992) and Mary Douglas (1986) on the cultural dynamics of modernity were used as lenses to view the narratives of students in relation to three key HIV risk factors: alcohol consumption, multiple and concurrent sexual partnerships, and condom use. Gender, which emerged as a cross-cutting issue, was also explored. The rich qualitative data were brought into a dialogue with selected statistics from the HEAIDS 2010 sero-prevalence survey conducted in 21 higher education institutions in the country.
Overall, patterns in risk perception and behaviour suggest that many student participants feel justified — by virtue of being students and free at last to explore and experience the edges of their adult life — to push the boundaries of risk.
Keywords:
HIV risk; University students; Sexuality; Alcohol; Multiple concurrent partnerships; Condom use; Gender; Eastern Cape Province of South Africa
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Adie Nelson
    University of Waterloo, Canada
Veronica Nelson
    University of Waterloo, Canada

"Hey Mitch-elle, you need a shave!": The school days of hirsute adolescents

This qualitative, longitudinal study directs attention to how adolescence - a time period that is already fraught with pressures and struggles for most - may be complicated by the presence of hirsutism, a putatively “sex-discordant” marker. Attention is directed to the school-based experiences of a non-representative sample of 67 Canadian youth and 41 adult women who shared their recollections of how hirsutism had impacted their lives as adolescents. Although hirsute youth may seem well-situated to act as the trailblazers for the type of subversive crossings that Butler (1990) championed in Gender Trouble, our study find little to suggest that they would welcome this role. Rather, the obverse seems true. However, given the dependent status of adolescents in Western society, it might be entirely presumptuous to expect hirsute youth to behave as if dualistic thinking about sex, gender and sexuality did not exist when so many of their experiences will continuously remind them that it does.
Keywords:
Adolescence; Stigma; Hirsutism; Gender; Relational aggression
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