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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
2007
Volume III Issue 2


Author-Supplied Abstracts & Keywords


Robert Prus
    University of Waterloo, Canada

Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics: Laying the Foundations for a Pragmatist Consideration of Human Knowing and Acting

Whereas a great many academics have presumed to speak knowledgeably about Aristotle's work, comparatively few have actually studied his texts in sustained detail and very few scholars in the social sciences have examined Aristotle's work mindfully of its relevance for the study of human knowing and acting on a more contemporary or enduring plane. Further, although many people simply do not know Aristotle's works well, even those who are highly familiar with Aristotle's texts (including Nicomachean Ethics) generally have lacked conceptual frames for traversing the corridors of Western social thought in more sustained pragmatist terms. It is here, using symbolic interactionism (a sociological extension of pragmatist philosophy) as an enabling device for developing both transsituational and transhistorical comparisons, that it is possible to establish links of the more enduring and intellectually productive sort between the classical scholarship of the Greeks and the ever emergent contemporary scene.

Keywords:
Aristotle; Ethics; Activity; Knowing; Agency; Politics; Pragmatism; Character; Morality; Virtues; Happiness; Friendship; Symbolic interactionism.
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Tim Gawley
     Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada

Revisiting Trust in Symbolic Interaction: Presentations of Trust Development in University Administration

Trust development has been studied from many sociological perspectives. Despite its early ventures, a perspective that lags in its attendance to trust is symbolic interaction. Using data drawn from twenty four semi-structured interviews with Canadian university administrators (UAs), this paper revisits a Goffman-influenced conceptualization proposed by Henslin (1968) to frame the analysis of four trust development tactics: being visible, expressing sincerity and personalization, showing the face and establishing routine activity. Resistance encountered during trust development is also discussed. Findings are compared with previous studies of trust in professional, leadership and everyday life settings. The implications of this paper for future symbolic interactionist forays into the areas of trust and administration are also discussed.

Keywords:
Trust; Symbolic Interaction; Erving Goffman; Qualitative Methods; Educational Administration; Leadership.
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Frank Nutch
     Trent University, Canada

On Cooling the Tourist Out. Notes on the Management of Spoiled Expectations

This article focuses on the social world of the commercial whale watch cruise. It draws on several years of participant observation research with marine field scientists, particularly field scientists who serve as naturalists on commercial whale watch cruises. Using Erving Goffman’s work, the essay details how the naturalist’s narration is an example of "cooling the mark out" that Goffman conceptually outlined and others have explored. In the social world of the commercial whale watch, the naturalist is the "operator and the tourist the mark". It is argued that the naturalist’s narration is the principal means for cooling the tourists’ out. This is done within a context of the operator anticipating a set of spoiled expectations the tourist is likely to experience. While this essay extends the work of Goffman and others who have explored different settings of the cooling out process, it substantially differs from them. Past studies have focused on the cooling out process primarily within a context of individual face-to-face interaction. This essay looks at the commercial whale watch as a social setting of cooling out the mark not on a face-to-face basis but as a process of a "group of individuals who are being cooled". Most importantly, this is viewed as occurring not after they have been conned or duped but in anticipation of their likely experiencing a set of spoiled expectations.

Keywords:
Cooling out; Eco-tourism; Goffman; Science studies; Social construction of experience; Tour guides; Tourism; Narrative; Whale watching; Naturalists.
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Allison L. Hurst
    Kenyon College, USA

Telling Tales of Oppression and Dysfunction: Narratives of Class Identity Reformation

I compare experiences and class identity formation of working-class college students in college. I find that all working-class students experience college as culturally different from their home cultures and have different understandings and interpretations of this difference based on race, class, and gender positions. I find that students develop fundamentally different strategies for navigating these cultural differences based on the strength or weakness of their structural understandings of class and inequality in US society. Students with strong structural understandings develop Loyalist strategies by which they retain close ties to their home culture. Students with more individual understandings of poverty and inequality develop Renegade strategies by which they actively seek immersion in the middle-class culture of the college. These strategic orientations are logical responses to the classed nature of our educational system and have very significant implications for the value and experience of social mobility in an allegedly meritocratic society.

Keywords:
Working Class; Identity; Narrative; Social Mobility; Higher Education.
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Richard C. Mitchell
     Brock University, Canada

Grounded Theory and Autopoietic Social Systems: Are They Methodologically Compatible?

The paper offers a secondary analysis from a grounded theory doctoral study that reconsiders its "grounded systemic design" (Mitchell 2005, 2007). While theorists across multiple disciplines fiercely debate the ontological implications of Niklas Luhmann’s autopoietic systems theory (Deflem 1998; Graber and Teubner 1998; King and Thornhill 2003; Mingers 2002; Neves 2001; O’Byrne 2003; Verschraegen 2002, for example), few investigators have yet to adopt his core constructs empirically (see Gregory, Gibson and Robinson 2005 for an exception). Glaser’s (1992, 2005) repeated concerns for grounded theorists to elucidate a "theoretical code" has provided an additional entry point into this project of integrating grounded theory with Luhmann’s abstract conceptual thinking about how global society operates. The author argues that this integration of methodology and systems thinking provides an evolution of grounded theory - rather than its ongoing "erosion" as Greckhamer and Koro-Ljungberg (2005) have feared - and a transportable set of methodological and analytical constructs is presented as a basis for further grounded study.

Keywords:
Autopoietic theory; Grounded systemic theory; Theoretical codes; Transdisciplinarity.
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Niels Åkerstrøm Andersen
     Copenhagen Business School, Denmark

Creating the Client Who Can Create Himself and His Own Fate – the Tragedy of the Citizens’ Contract

This article is about the emergence of new forms of active citizenry, empowerment, and self-help that meet in the so-called citizens’ contract. Based on Danish social policy, the article shows how the articulation of the citizen as ‘fellow citizen’ has led to the current contractualization of the relationship between the administration and the individual citizen. Citizens’ contracts are employed not only to commit clients to a specific behavior, but first and foremost to commit them to a particular inner dialogue about obligation and freedom. Economic assistance becomes dependent on this dialogue and they thus become contracts both between the administration and the citizens and between the citizens and their own selves. The article moves beyond the Foucault-inspired categorization by identifying the tragic consequences of these self-contracts.

Keywords:
Active citizenship; Contractualism; Luhmann; Koselleck; Semantics; Governmentality.
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Ellu Saar
     Tallinn University, Estonia
     Margarita Kazjulja
     Tallinn University, Estonia

Individual Planning or Adaptation: Personal Destinies of Non-Estonians in the Period of Socio-Economic Reforms of the 1990s in Estonia

The aim of this paper is to analyze the interrelationship between structural changes and personal destinies of non-Estonians. How do non-Estonians who have grown up in a socialist system and have finished their education in the late 1980s or early 1990s experience a societal transformation? Were structural and institutional changes brought about by a minimum of adaptations and fluctuations or by a maximum of turbulence and mobility? How successful were they in converting resources gained in the old system into other types of assets in post-socialist conditions? The paper is based on in-depth interviews conducted in 2003 and 2004 with non-Estonians graduating from secondary educational institutions in 1983 and belonging to the so-called "winners" cohort. One of the central results of the analysis is that non-Estonians’ behaviour was not so much directed by purposeful biographical projects but rather it could be characterized as an adaptation to new circumstances. Opportunities proved to be less a matter of individual control and planning than of unfavourable structural conditions. Our analysis indicated the stability of relative rankings in social hierarchy despite the huge amount of job moves. It was evident that having only higher education did not guarantee non-Estonians a stable position in the labour market. Broad social network helped to realize this resource.

Keywords:
Personal destinies; Adaptation; Post-socialist structural changes; Social networks; Non-Estonians.
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Wendy Leo Moore
     Texas A&M University, USA
     Jennifer Pierce
     University of Minnesota, USA

Still Killing Mockingbirds: Narratives of Race and Innocence in Hollywood’s Depiction of the White Messiah Lawyer

Through a narrative analysis of movies confronting issues of race and racism in the post-civil rights era, we suggest that the movie To Kill a Mockingbird ushered in a new genre for movies about race which presented an image of a white male hero, or perhaps savior, for the black community. We suggest that this genre outlasted the era of the Civil Rights Movement and continues to impact popular cultural discourses about race in post-civil rights America. Post-civil rights films share the central elements of the anti-racist white male hero genre, but they also provide a plot twist that simultaneously highlights the racial innocence of the central characters and reinforces the ideology of liberal individualism. Reading these films within their broader historical context, we show how the innocence of these characters reflects not only the recent neo-conservative emphasis on "color blindness", but presents a cinematic analogue to the anti-affirmative action narrative of the innocent white victim.

Keywords:
Race; Racism; Film; Popular culture; Whiteness.
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Barbara Adkins
    Queensland University of Technology, Australia
    Eryn Grant
    Queensland University of Technology, Australia

Backpackers as a Community of Strangers: The Interaction Order of an Online Backpacker Notice Board

While commercial images of "backpacking" emphasise adventure, youth and sightseeing, recent ethnographies of backpackers identify other motivations and rationales that accentuate travel experiences as formative of the self and identity. This raises the question of the basis of this apparently common orientation. This paper investigates, through analysis of postings on an electronic backpacker notice board, "backpacker" as a collaboratively constructed category. We propose that the shared understandings of "backpacker" enabled by these notice boards are consistent with cultural orientations captured in notions of cosmopolitanism involving a shift to new forms of sociality across borders: a solidarity with strangers.

Keywords:
Backpackers; Interaction Order; Cosmopolitanism; Information and Communication; Technology.
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Harri Sarpavaara
    University of Tampere, Finland

Dionysian and Apollonian in Advertising. The Representations of Pleasure and Discipline in Finnish Television Advertisements

The recent accounts of our era usually argue that pleasure, sensuality, and sexuality play essential roles in media and consumer culture. Advertising especially is regarded as a place where rational argument is displaced by pleasure and sex. However, it is hard to find systematic empirical analysis to verify these claims. In this article, I examine the pervasiveness of the ideal of pleasure empirically in television advertising by analysing 167 Finnish advertisements. The findings suggest that the prevailing discourse about hedonistic culture and especially the hedonistic advertising culture captures something essential, but that this discourse does not tell the whole story because it does not notice the flipside, the ideal of the ascetically-oriented body that appears as frequently as the hedonistic ideal.

Keywords:
Apollonian; Dionysian; Embodiment; Gender; Representation; Television advertising; Semiotics; Content analysis.
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