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Milkshakes and Convertibles: An Autobiographical Reflection

Studies in Symbolic Interaction

ISBN: 978-1-78190-056-7, eISBN: 978-1-78190-057-4

ISSN: 0163-2396

Publication date: 10 October 2012


My title comes from Blanche Geer's (1964) famous paper ‘First days in the field’. When she was about to do the preliminary fieldwork for the project that became Becker, Geer, and Hughes (1968) on liberal arts undergraduates, she reflected on her own student ‘self’. That young woman had a taste for ‘milkshakes and convertibles’ (p. 379), which to Geer as an adult woman seemed incomprehensible and foreign. Being British, my life has never included any enthusiasm for milkshakes or convertibles which do not figure in UK culture, but the phrase has always enchanted me, and I have always wanted to use it as a title. This autobiographical reflection is in two main parts. The first half is a reflexive examination of my current life and scholarly work. In some ways that will seem to be the self-portrait of a somewhat uni-dimensional workaholic with an uneasy relationship with the symbolic interactionist intellectual tradition. The second part of the piece is an account of my family history, childhood and adolescence spent with my eccentric mother, and the reader is invited to understand the choices made in adulthood as largely contrastive: designed to ensure my life was as unlike my mother's as possible. Just as Geer looked back to her college years and found her youthful self strange, I look back to my childhood and see a very different person.


Delamont, S. (2012), "Milkshakes and Convertibles: An Autobiographical Reflection", Denzin, N.K. (Ed.) Studies in Symbolic Interaction (Studies in Symbolic Interaction, Vol. 39), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 51-69.



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