Contributions from European Symbolic Interactionists: Conflict and Cooperation: Volume 45

Cover of Contributions from European Symbolic Interactionists: Conflict and Cooperation
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(17 chapters)
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Abstract

In this volume we will present nine articles from the third conference of the European SSSI which was held on July 4–6 in Rotterdam in 2012. They come from a diverse range of countries such as Poland, Sweden, The Netherlands, and Germany. This collection shows a wide variety of qualitative methods and themes, such as sex-work in Poland, urban public places in the Netherlands, dancing during lunch break in Sweden, self-change in Papua New Guinea, immigration in Malta and the body online. When we look at the studies in this volume, it becomes clear that European scholars have been inspired by the SI tradition in various ways, which will be discussed briefly in this introduction.

Abstract

This chapter analyzes how men – both clients and bodyguards – interacting within the social world of the female escort industry see prostitutes within their professional context. It examines discursive scripts that stigmatize the activity at hand and, to some extent, legitimize both verbal and physical violence toward escorts from an angle not typically addressed in the literature regarding female prostitution. Drawing on in-depth interview data, this chapter is intended to shed light on how men attempt to construct their encounters with female escorts in ways that not only maintain but also transmit their understanding of paid sex, which is often referred to as one’s everyday consumption practice. A major objective of this contribution is to elucidate the unwritten norms about expected and satisfying exchanges within the prostitution sphere, on the one hand, and analyze its impact upon escorts’ professional self-meanings, on the other hand.

Abstract

This research paper explores the role of women talk (schmoozing) and the gender gap in urban sociology. In the discussions concerning the changing face of the Dutch inner cities, there is an increasing tendency for attention to be paid to ethnicity, without a concomitant analysis of the impact of gender in these neighbourhoods. Many Dutch urban theorists focus on examining both the levels and effects of segregation in urban neighbourhoods and how this impacts integration and community building in the Netherlands. This study, in seeking to redress this imbalance, firmly places women at the centre of urban theoretical enquiry. Using the results of unstructured interviews and observation I am able to offer an assessment of the many ways in which ethnically embedded gender relations have impacted on the urban and social spaces known as Afrikaanderwijk. A key line of enquiry being: what role do women play and how are they visible in/at the local neighbourhood level, specifically in the form of everyday, informal social contacts?

Abstract

This chapter scrutinizes the role of ethnic categorizations in everyday-lived experiences in a diverse neighbourhood. It was found that ethnic categorizations do play an important part in use and perception in widely divergent ways. Users of public space categorize relevant others in terms of ethnicity in various situations and in relation to several activities. Ethnic categories provide meaningful frameworks both in the case of negative evaluations of behaviour and in understanding spatial segregation. Indigenous Dutch are ethnically categorized in terms of them avoiding public space. Established newcomers are aware of an ethnic hierarchy and feel abandoned by indigenous neighbours. On their part, these established newcomers consider more recently arrived new migrants as a sign of decay of the neighbourhood. Next to (perceived) ethnicity, language is taken in account as a separate important classifying principle.

Abstract

Malta is a small, densely populated, and dominantly Catholic island republic not too far off the North-African coast. Before 2002, Malta never had to deal with many irregular immigrants. Nevertheless, negative stigmas toward “southerners” were pre-existent and seemed to have been around for centuries. This stigmatization was caused by a historical identification of the self of Maltese citizens as Christian Europeans. By 2002, irregular migration patterns changed and thousands of African irregular immigrants started arriving by boat every year. Keeping in mind the smallness of the island, this had a considerable impact on its ethnographic landscape. Pre-existing stigmas strongly persisted, additional stigmas were created, and many supposed inconveniences were fabricated by the Maltese citizenry. The title “outsiders as invaders” is quoted from an interview with a Maltese expert on irregular migration. This brings attention to the fact that stigmatized persons who are living in Malta are still regularly demonized and seen as “the others” by mainstream society. Even today barely any effort is made by Maltese society, institutions, or even its government to support integration and acceptance of non-European outsiders.

Abstract

After Papua New Guinea’s contact with the western world several western scholars turned their attention toward the indigenous population and showed a special interest in the cults that were formed afterward as well as the (following) conversions of almost all indigenous population to the Christian faith. While the majority of the literature focuses on this process either as an act of desperation or as one of calculation, this chapter focuses on the practices in the actual process of “becoming a Christian,” viewing them as expressions of self-change and thus offering a new perspective for understanding those changes. Drawing on and expanding interactionist ideas of dramatic self-change, this chapter identifies the practices used to portray that a change of identity has occurred. Data was gathered through the analysis of existing anthropological and ethnological work, which provides information about a broad range of tribes, yet is limited to the information provided by the respective researcher. The practices found are divided into practices which need not be secured, which demonstrate the acceptance of the new religion in a way that is usually not challenged (like public confessions, verbal denigration of the old tradition, integration into the new structure, adopting new symbols, and destroying the old) and practices that need to be secured, ones which might be regarded as odd (like dramatizing enlightenment) and thus need another way of accounting to secure them from being challenged.

Abstract

One can read the history of MMOGs as a history of the development of the body (avatar) in the internet. To make the classical terms of sociology of the body fit the field of MMOGs, this chapter builds on the social world perspective to leave the dichotomy between real (offline) and virtual (online) behind. MMOGs are seen as one of numerous social worlds (rooted in the here and now) and not as distant planets. In the Here and Now the body is an everyday matter of course. According to Goffman’s interaction order Face-to-Face interaction is the prototype of interaction and the influence of technical artifacts (pen and paper, telephone, etc.) negates its constituting elements – immediacy and reciprocity. Immediacy and reciprocity are interrelated with the body. Although MMOGs are technical artifacts, MMOGs re-establish elements constituting the body. The avatar becomes a key artifact and an inescapable necessity in experiencing the world of MMOGs. Therefore compared to other online-places, MMOGs expand the accessibility that is typical for the internet with the possibility of “physical” presence. But this physical presence is rather a semiotic body (or body-social), than a body in physical terms. The avatar therefore seems to be an intersubjective accomplishment pointing to group affiliations. Applying to the body, it is therefore not just skin and bones it is also socially constructed. The avatar is expressed or embodied society.

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Abstract

Two basic theses of G. H. Meads social psychology are: (1) Using gestures that influence sender and receiver in similar ways contains a reinforcing effect for both. (2) Under specific circumstances they also create new psychic domains, for example, consciousness of meaning, object, and the Self. The elementary levels of these processes are studied in social psychology, infant psychology, and lately in neuroscience.

One arena for studying these processes in adults is dancing, where spontaneity, emotionality, childish physical identification processes, and trajectories of the Self can coexist with cognitive planning and social regulation. I interpret this in a session of “Lunch Beat,” analyzing a layman interview on dancing during lunch break. The arena includes the differences between work obligations and the temporary freedom under lunch. One point is the creativity that may grow in the abrupt meeting of work demands and free physical sociality in dancing.

Interpretations conclude that participants’ experiences are: (1) energy production, (2) experiencing the world outside ofthe box,” (3) expanding by denyingmusts” for an hour, (4) meeting new people in both Others and Self, (5) creativity in changing arena from work to free time, and (6) meeting the not expected.

All interpretations are drawn back to basic theses in Mead.

Abstract

The study of accounts, corrective practices, or aligning actions has grown to constitute a significant sub-discipline within everyday life sociology. Most work in this field starts with an assumption of order and assumes that accounts reestablish broken sociality. However, much accounting activity resists against alignment efforts, and alignment efforts can be used as a means of conflict. The present chapter aims to survey situations in which actors resist and negotiate alignment and the power and status conflicts involved in these negotiations. With these conflicts, participants also negotiate responsibility, which is here seen not as an internal attribute of actors, but a socially negotiated meaning as well. On a larger level, the present chapter shows how levels of meaning are intertwined in alignment situations, making them much more than mere tools to produce and protect order.

Abstract

In this chapter we describe how paramedics deal with verbal and physical violence to expand on the available knowledge on this subject and relate it to their work-specific context. Our research consists of interviews in two large Dutch cities. We adopt a dramaturgical framework to discuss our findings. Paramedics initially ignore verbal abuse because they value the well-being of the patient above their own emotional needs. Furthermore, they utilize dramaturgical strategies – which entail emphasizing specific hallmarks of their work, such as compassion and professionalism – so that bystanders feel that the patient is in good hands. Not all of the paramedics interviewed proved capable of applying these strategies, resulting in more frequent exposure to physical violence for those paramedics. We conclude that managing emotions through impression-management, particularly one's own emotions and the emotions of bystanders, is crucial. Our recommendation is to further investigate the knowledge and skills present amongst paramedics in a larger qualitative follow-up study, and to repeat the study among other public professionals so that they may reap the benefits and (more) physical violence can be prevented in the future. Few studies exist that allow paramedics to describe their own experiences with violence on the job. In this chapter we let the paramedics do the talking.

About the Authors

Pages 195-197
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Cover of Contributions from European Symbolic Interactionists: Conflict and Cooperation
DOI
10.1108/S0163-2396201545
Publication date
2015-07-02
Book series
Studies in Symbolic Interaction
Editor
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78441-856-4
eISBN
978-1-78441-855-7
Book series ISSN
0163-2396