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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
2011
Volume VII Issue 2


Author-Supplied Abstracts & Keywords


Robert Prus
     University of Waterloo, Canada

Morality, Deviance, and Regulation: Pragmatist Motifs in Plato's Republic and Laws

Envisioning morality, deviance, and regulation as enduring features of human group life, and using symbolic interaction (Mead 1934; Blumer 1969; Prus 1996; Prus and Grills 2003) as a conceptual device for traversing the corridors of time, this paper asks what we may learn about deviance and morality as humanly engaged realms of community life by examining Plato's (420-348 BCE) Republic and Laws.
Focusing on the articulation of two model communities, with Republic primarily under the guidance of a set of philosopher-kings and Laws more comprehensively under the rule of a constitution, Plato considers a wide array of matters pertinent to the study of morality, deviance, and regulation.
Thus, whereas many social scientists have dismissed Plato's texts as the works of a “utopian idealist” and/or an “ancient philosopher,” Republic and Laws have much to offer to those who approach the study of human knowing and acting in more distinctively pragmatist sociological terms.
Indeed, because these two volumes address so many basic features of community life (including morality, religion, politics, poetics, and education) in extended detail, they represent particularly valuable transhistorical and transcultural comparison points for contemporary analysis.
Although the products of a somewhat unique period in Western civilization (i.e., the classical Greek era, circa 700-300 BCE), Plato's Republic and Laws are very much studies of social order. Plato's speakers, in each case, clearly have notions of the moral order that they wish to promote, but, to their sociological credit, they also embark on more distinctively analytic considerations of the broader processes and problematics of humanly engaged life worlds.
Still, given the practical restraints of a single paper and the extended relevance of Plato's texts for the topics at hand, readers are cautioned that the present statement focuses primarily on those materials from Republic that most directly address deviance and regulation and mainly the first six books of Laws.
Employing Prus and Grills (2003) depictions of deviance as a series of generic social processes as a contemporary reference point, the paper concludes with a consideration of the relevance and contributions of Plato's Republic and Laws for the study of morality, deviance, and regulation as fundamental features of human group life.
Keywords:
Morality; Deviance; Crime; Regulation; Plato; Aristotle; Republic; Laws; Pragmatism; Symbolic Interaction; Agency; Community; Justice
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James Sutton
     California State University, USA

An Ethnographic Account of Doing Survey Research in Prison: Descriptions, Reflections, and Suggestions from the Field

This article presents an ethnographic account of my day-to-day experiences as a survey researcher in men’s prisons in the United States. I outline challenges I encountered in the field and share personal reflections on interviewing people who are incarcerated. I then put forth a series of implications and suggestions for those who plan to conduct similar studies. Researchers’ firsthand accounts of the data collection process and research settings are crucial because they provide instruction for other scholars. Yet, these aspects of doing research are conventionally ignored in survey researchers’ scholarly publications. Accordingly, this article presents an examination of my work as a survey researcher through an interpretive frame, calls for reflective approaches to conducting quantitative research, and provides a primer on doing research in prison settings.

Keywords:
Field Research; Survey Research; Total Institution; Incarceration; Prison; Ethnography; Reflective Research
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Chris Hardnack
     UUniversity of Oregon, USA

More than an Activist: Identity Competition and Participation in a Revolutionary Socialist Organization

How do activists manage life commitments and membership in a radical social movement organization? Starting with the assumption that activists are ‘more than activists’ who have personal lives that can affect their movement lives, I use identity theory to analyze how competition among identities influences participation in the organization to which they belong. I also assess how the collective identity of a revolutionary socialist organization affects the personal identities of activists. This movement identity is labeled ‘socialist identity’ which must then compete with other identities that the activist may possess. The methods used were modified life history interviews of former and current members, participant observations, and content analysis of the organization’s documents.
Keywords:
Social Movements; Identity Theory; Identities; Case Studies; Activists; Socialists
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Jakub Isański
    Adam Mickiewicz University, Poland
Mateusz Leszkowicz
     Adam Mickiewicz University, Poland

"Keeping up with the Joneses." A sociological content analysis of advertising catalogues with the eye-tracking method

Is it possible to look at something without actually noticing it? Is it possible to see something in the picture that is not really there? The answers to these philosophical questions can be obtained by comparing the results of eye-tracking tests combined with interviews based on sociological theories. The answers, however, have more than the philosophical dimension in that they can provide insight into everyday processes of social perception and its application, also for commercial purposes. In the design phase of the present study, we chose a popular advertising folder available for free for the average consumer. While showing the selected photographs to the respondents (all the pictures included people portrayed during everyday activities), we asked them to pay particular attention to the situations presented. Afterwards, each participant took part in a standardised interview. In our view, the conclusions formulated on the basis of the obtained results are relevant not only to the investigated catalogue, but can also be treated as an indicator of how people usually browse through advertisements and what kind of inferences they make about the world on that basis. While most attention should be given to watching the advertisements, we constitute our dreams of a perfect life, environment and the items that furnish it.
Keywords:
Erving Goffman; Eye-tracking Research; Visual Analysis; Qualitative Research
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Lina Hoel Felde
    University of Southern Denmark, Denmark

Elevated Cholesterol as Biographical Work – Expanding the Concept of "Biographical Disruption"

The concept of ‘biographical disruption’ has been a leading framework for studies of the experience of chronic illness. A symptomless chronic condition – bereft of bodily signs ‒ does not similarly present biographical disruption. People with elevated cholesterol are healthy at the same time as medical regimens signal sickness. The empirical material presented in this article, based on interviews with people with elevated cholesterol, suggests that a more appropriate metaphor could be ‘biographical work’ in such instances. The aim of this article is to discuss how people with the symptomless condition of elevated cholesterol continually construct elevated cholesterol in everyday life doing biographical work along shifting contexts. The vocabulary of biographical work constructs a subject who is continually working on building situationally-appropriate identities embedded in the shifting contexts of being sick or not sick. The article shows how people ongoingly ‘do’ elevated cholesterol, creating a mother-cholesterol-identity, a guest-cholesterol-identity et cetera, navigating the dilemma of absence of bodily signs (signaling healthiness) and medical regimens (indicating sickness) against shifting rhythms of biographical particulars in everyday life. Linkages of medical regimens with the rhythms of mothering, vacationing, being a guest et cetera create contexts – ever-emerging ‘cholesterol-biographical rhythms’ ‒ for accomplishing and stretching the cholesterol identity from situation to situation, being adequately compliant with medical regimens.
Keywords:
Analytic Bracketing; Biographical Work; Biographical Disruption; Compliance; Ethnomethodology; Medical Sociology
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