Studies in Symbolic Interaction: Volume 37

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(16 chapters)
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National parks are selected as places of national importance, with national meaning. At the same time, the political process that shapes park management is often a local one. This biases park interpretation away from national concerns and toward local ones. The National Park Service's corporate interests and decision-making processes often reinforce the role of local interests except in the rare cases of congressional intervention. A close look at the political environment of Fort Davis National Historic Site, Texas, illustrates these points. Congress mandated the site to interpret westward expansion and its impact on American Indians. It became instead a program of park interpretation based on westward expansion and the role of African-American “Buffalo Soldiers” within it. As a result, Indians have effectively been written out of the story of this “Indian fort.” Interestingly, Native American issues reappear in commercial establishments, both the gift shop in the park and businesses in the town of Fort Davis outside the park. If businesses perceive a demand for information about Native Americans among tourists, presumably there is a similar, unmet demand among the same tourists as they visit the historic site. Given the role of local concerns in park interpretation, national intervention will probably be necessary to provide political support for reinterpreting the site.

The purpose of this chapter is to illustrate the centrality of the tabula rasa concept of self for the medical model of homeless service provision. Using four years of ethnographic data analyzed with a grounded fractal methodology, we illustrate the logical interconnections between the particular phenomena of homeless service institutions and broad cultural contexts. While social science has been somewhat critical of the medicalization of homelessness, its shared supposition about the self has relegated it to structural critiques that offer little to the currently homeless and those who want to help them. In contrast, we illuminate a path toward the development of an alternative pedagogy of individualism that is more directly responsive to the problematics of the medical model of homeless service provision.

The focus of this chapter is on the experience of safety by Dutch seniors in a multicultural neighbourhood and how this is shaped by their labelling of immigrant men in public space. I describe how meaning is given to immigrants in general, and more specifically, to immigrant men who hang around in public places. This research is based on ongoing interactions with 30 senior citizens (above 60 years of age) over a period of two years and shows that regular and fleeting interethnic contact has major but opposing influences on how the presence of ethnic men in public space is perceived. Those who have prolonged interethnic contact over years tend to normalize the behaviour of ‘immigrant men hanging around’; those who do not have these contacts tend to use the populist rhetoric in media and politics to criminalize this behaviour.

This personal narrative describes the results of a tragic gun accident involving my young son and his close friend. In this autobiographical narrative, I trace the effects of youthful offender laws on my family and explain how our state's juvenile justice system transformed our family's lives for over three years. In addition, as both a participant and a sociologist observer, I show how race and class have conditioned the accident's outcome. As Griffith and Smith's (2005) work on mothering for schooling illustrates, social class greatly affects the relationship between school and family.

In our case, largely because of my training as a researcher and my husband's background in education and psychology, we were able to make the juvenile justice system work as positively as possible for our son. And, because of my privileged position as an academic, I am now able to make visible the effects of youthful offender laws on one youthful offender and his parents.

The philosopher Peter Winch (1957) argued that the history of a subject is best written by a practitioner of that subject. This is ably demonstrated by this volume: Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz has assembled a group of high-profile contributors who discuss the emergence and consolidation of particular Language & Social Interaction (LSI) programs at various universities. This is a history of LSI in the United States written by participants in these programs, in their (then) roles of graduate students or faculty members. The result is a collection of enlightening, fascinating, and brilliant essays that focus upon the development, formulation, and transmission of ideas.

Previous research indicates that racial and ethnic prejudice continues to be prevalent in U.S. society; however, the social-psychological processes of prejudice are not fully understood. Furthermore, much research on prejudice focuses on white against black prejudice, at the exclusion of other minority groups. The purpose of this chapter is to explore white prejudice against Latinos using in-depth interview data with college students. Findings indicate that many participants describe instances in which they felt prejudice, yet they use creative mechanisms to justify their prejudice or construct it as something other than prejudice. Mostly, participants described their own prejudice as a “special type” of prejudice – including trait prejudice, situational prejudice, reciprocal prejudice, and recovered prejudice – that is distinct from ordinary prejudice. By describing their own prejudice as a “special type,” participants are able to construct themselves as nonprejudiced individuals while simultaneously acknowledging their prejudice.

This study uses ethnographic methods to explore the discursive practices that give life to ethnic restaurants, establishing identity, and addressing community engagement. Employing postcolonial and postmodern perspectives that discuss discursive practices of hybridity, authenticity, and commoditization, the research focused on five culture-specific restaurants: Irish, Italian, Korean, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern. The restaurants' stories are studied through observation, interviews, and the situated approach as discussed by Denzin (1994). The findings suggest that some restaurants openly embraced hybridity, defied and debunked stereotypes, and resisted hegemonic constructions of individuals and of culture by enacting narratives of defiance, while others attempted to maintain traditional images or commodify the culture. Using the situated approach revealed a post-postcolonial tension between certain restaurants within the community.

The question I am seeking answers to is whether or not we have the ability to re-make ourselves into another person. The research subject is me. More to the point, can I, a white woman of Northern European descent, truly become a member of the Japanese society that I grew to love? My methodological approach to this question is a mixed evocative and analytical autoethnography. Within these pages is a complex tale of illness, racism, and sexual discrimination and how they intersect to create a self. From this creation come the questions of un-creation and re-creation; can I deconstruct my self and identity so as to reconstruct who I want to be? Will my reconstruction be supported by my chosen society? Can I truly belong somewhere, anywhere?

Popular images in romantic comedies of the gallant knight and relationships that end with “Happily Ever After” affect women's expectations of what a relationship should be like and what a man should do in the relationship. This standard is mediated by both the women's interaction with the movie and its images, along with patriarchal notions of women wanting, and even needing a relationship. Using in-depth interviews from 18 heterosexual women, this study focuses on displaying how women are impacted by romantic movies and, using a Feminist Interactionist Cultural Studies perspective, how women interact with these movies to construct meaning in their own lives and relationships, while still maintaining the gendered status quo.

The American culture is at risk because digital communication technologies insidiously undermine the concept of American individualism. As explained by Herbert J. Gans (1988),At its most basic, individualism is the pursuit of personal freedom and of personal control over the social and natural environment. It is also an ideology – a set of beliefs, values, and goals – and probably the most widely shared ideology in the U.S. (p. 1).

The purpose of this study is to apply a rhetorical lens to the exploration of symbolic interactions used to negotiate contested identity. Specifically, we provide and analyze an Internet discussion among nurses concerning job duties and responsibilities. In this case study, one nurse questions her superior's remarks about her “abandoning” her responsibilities if she does not undertake “non-nursing” tasks. Ironically, the majority of posts that follow from other nurses perpetuate the notion that nurses must perform “non-nursing” tasks to fulfill their primary moral obligation and sustain an identity of nurses as flexible and caring. A rhetorical lens is applied and suggests that multiple framing techniques and rhetorical tactics (i.e., mutual negation, minimization, red herrings, sunny-side of domination, and perhaps most important the moral imperative) are used to persuade the nurse toward a collective identity – flexible professional. Although the main contribution of this study is found in the use of the rhetorical lens, an additional contribution is discussed – unexpected evidence, which suggests that the primary assumption of a “nursing shortage” may be a discursive reality, as well.

Cover of Studies in Symbolic Interaction
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Studies in Symbolic Interaction
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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