The Interaction Order: Volume 50

Cover of The Interaction Order
Subject:

Table of contents

(14 chapters)

Prelims

Pages i-xi
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Part I Foundations

Abstract

Gregory P. Stone (1921–1981) made original contributions to the fields of urban sociology, social psychology, sociology of sport, and sociological theory. His work gave rise to a set of empirically grounded concepts including nonranked status aggregates, personalization, universes of appearance, and personal and collective identity. These concepts developed over time, were based on quantitative research, and provide continuity to Stone’s work. This essay will elaborate on these concepts in order to consolidate and interpret Stone’s contribution to sociology.

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Abstract

Michael Holquist (1990), one of the commentators on Mikhail Bakhtin’s monumental work, stated flatly that “human existence is dialogue,” and Ivana Markova (2003) declared that “dialogism is the ontology of humanity.” Bakhtin (1985;1986) himself said that such dialogues are conducted by using “speech genres.” From another angle Kenneth Burke asked, “What is involved when we say what people are doing and why they are doing it?” and claimed – and showed – that this question can be best answered by using what he called the “grammar of motives,” which consisted of a hexad of terms: act, attitude, scene, agent, agency, and purpose. In this chapter, I examine, by using various examples, how the Burkean grammar is used in the construction of one speech genre or the other to achieve rhetorically effective dialogic communication.

Abstract

A common charge against qualitative researchers in general and interactionist researchers in particular is that they produce descriptive, a-theoretical accounts of group life. We consider the problem of “analytic interruptus” in contemporary symbolic interactionism – that is, a failure to move beyond analyses of individual cases – and offer a potential to a solution via the pursuit of a generic social process (GSP) research agenda. A GSP approach involves developing, assessing, and revising concepts from the close scrutiny of empirical instances across diverse contexts. By considering criticisms of GSPs from feminist and postmodernist scholars, a more informed, qualified, and better-situated approach to the framework becomes possible. We argue that GSPs remain a quintessential analytical tool to explore subcultural realities and build formal theories of the social world.

Part II The Interaction Order

Abstract

In this keynote address, I use Georg Simmel’s sociology of social forms approach to amend Erving Goffman’s interaction order perspective into a contemporary analytical framework for empirical analysis of everyday life in our twenty-first century mediated social order. For Goffman, the interaction order provides a foundational basis for social order. As a cornerstone of the human condition, Goffman maintained that most of us spend our daily lives in the direct presence of others. However, rapid advancements in interactive media formats in the last few decades have given rise to an unprecedented twenty-first century interaction order. Many of us now also spend our everyday lives in the mediated presence of others, the effects of which parallel those of face-to-face interaction in importance. These changes, I contend, provide a necessary occasion to reimagine Goffman’s interaction order. In what follows, I first provide a brief synopsis of Goffman’s interaction order. Next, I outline the twenty-first century interaction order and illustrate the importance of Simmel’s formal sociology in amending Goffman’s original framework in relation to this unforeseen order. Finally, to highlight a few key points – I incorporate empirical examples from my work as it relates to police legitimacy. I conclude with some suggestions for future research and note a few limitations.

Abstract

The place of G. H. Mead’s works in symbolic interactionism is both central and paradoxical. It stands at the very foundation of Hebert Blumer’s initial invention of symbolic interactionism with respect to Mead’s social behaviorism and has been discussed and debated ever since because of the problems caused by such a presumed direct filiation. Returning to Mead in order to broaden the perspective offered by Blumer is a must and has to face some fundamental issues raised in this context. This article starts by examining the ontogenetic and phylogenetic processes involved in Mead’s concept of society, in order to show the multiple dimensions involved in significant symbols. An illustration of Mead’s wider perspective is given in reference to the feminist movement as analyzed first by Mead’s student, Jessie Taft, and goes back to the origin of the movement with Mary Wollstonecraft. This leads to the analysis of the debate about the place of power in symbolic interactionism, initiated by Peter M. Hall, and addresses the alternative between domination and emancipation. This alternative has been worked out by Lonnie Athen’s radical symbolic interactionism analysis of domination on the one side, and by Kathy Charmaz and Norman K. Denzin on the other side of emancipatory symbolic interactionist practices. Another solution is proposed to this alternative, with the analysis of power being intrinsically constituted by domination and emancipation, in their respective contribution to the understanding of the symbolic dispositions of autonomy – a concept that remains relatively undeveloped in Mead’s works.

Abstract

Erving Goffman has been variously interpreted as a symbolic interactionist, a structural functionalist, or an a-structural power-game theorist. However, when considering Goffman’s affiliation with the human ecology (HEC) of Robert Park and Everett Hughes, one is able to shed new light on Goffman’s relationship to the aforementioned sociological paradigms. This chapter will demonstrate that his Darwinist underpinnings and overall implicit evolutionary perspective allowed him to develop a dramaturgical theory that explicates how actors are able to understand, predict, anticipate, accommodate to, and influence others while pursuing one’s own or own group’s interests, through one or more of role “taking,” “playing,” and “making.” Furthermore, Goffman elaborates upon Park’s use of dramaturgy, following him in making more room for competition and inequalities in status and power, and offering new dimensions and categories for specifying when and why different adaptive strategies will be used, within different types and degrees of accommodation. Ecological dramaturgy is the term we give to these interdependent lines of social action within stratification contexts. Such structural concerns ultimately separate Goffman from the more subjective and less deductive elements of traditional symbolic interactionist thought. We argue that Goffman’s much neglected ecological and evolutionary-minded approach to role-taking and its inspired analysis of competitive interactive processes provide a missing link in better understanding his complicated intellectual heritage.

Part III New Interpretive Studies

Abstract

This memoir records my experiences with, observations of, and reflections upon the racial segregation that prevailed as I was growing up white in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in the 1950s and 1960s. As part of the last generation to remember the Jim Crow South, I offer these verbal snapshots of the last days of de jure racial segregation – an exercise in retrospective symbolic interactionism.

Abstract

Drawing on interviews with football wives from the Canadian Football League (CFL), this article examines how these women define their personal identity through their talk about being married to a pro football player. Using the concept of courtesy identity and Anderson and Snow’s (1987) conceptualization of identity talk, this chapter explains the processes in which these women claim a courtesy identity of a football wife. I identify two strategies these women use to construct their identity: distancing from stereotypes and envisioning self as his teammate. I argue that women performed this verbal identity work in pursuit of legitimizing their courtesy identity of a football wife. They accomplish this by distancing self from a stereotypical, anticipated social identity of the football wife as a “gold digger” or naïve woman and then working up another socially positive and normative one that they are supportive women who have worked alongside their husband and are part of their career. I conclude by summarizing the findings and argue that by constructing themselves as devoted football wives, they uphold these idealized images of traditional masculinity and femininity in professional sports.

Abstract

Through an ethnographic content analysis of 936 letters to the editor, op-eds, and editorials and 1,195 online comments, this chapter examines how participants in the public sphere neutralized accusations of racism leveled against Donald Trump in the early phase of his presidential campaign. The study shows that both supporters and opponents effectively (if not purposefully) neutralized racism through a number of techniques. Trump’s opponents neutralized racism by calling attention to a number of other perceived flaws in his candidacy. Trump’s supporters obscured the charges of racism by endorsing him and calling attention to positive qualities. Others neutralized racism by changing the subject or making neutral observations. Supporters neutralized charges of racism in three additional ways. Most commonly, they framed Trump’s comments as accurate. Some defensively drew a distinction between legal and illegal immigration. A relative few claimed that others were also racist or xenophobic. That there were a number of ways of defining Trump’s stance toward Mexican immigrants demonstrates the role of human agency in producing social structures. Structural factors in the discursive field such as the stock of existing conservative frames, Trump’s absurdity shield, and political partisanship also facilitated the neutralization of accusations of racism.

Abstract

This chapter “Approaching the Public by Social Worlds: Understanding Bloggers’ Taste” places us in a distinct world of the media: the world of the public. The title aims to highlight two aspects that I want to discuss here: practices of online publication and the interest of the social world approach to conceive these practices.

Abstract

In this chapter, I discuss two unfamiliar actors of the process of information production in the newspaper: typographers and subeditors. I focus on a particular aspect of the continuum of information production: the prepress. Subeditors and typographers made the newspaper together and in their own respective ways. Traces of these collaborations can be found in the newspaper object – and that is what I am going to try to demonstrate here.

Abstract

In this study, we analyze sport as a cultural product of a particular place. We use the concept of “tradition” to highlight the collective (as opposed to individual) aspects of sport, emphasizing the importance of temporality, emergence, and novelty in social processes. We conducted a case study of internationally successful Icelandic men’s team handball that provides an interesting topic in this respect. Our findings challenge decades of research on sport that has stressed innate talent, individual qualities or physiological processes rather than the sociocultural processes. They support the interactionist approach to culture showing how local culture, rooted in specific interaction settings, influences the formation and development of a successful sport tradition. It is the way that cultural elements interact and combine in various networks that is crucial for national variations in playing sport. The social processes involved are best captured by Mead’s concepts of emergence, novelty, and the principle of sociality. These concepts help us to explain how unique national styles of playing sports derive from general cultural and social mechanism that interact to produce emergent and novel national variations. Our findings also support and extend earlier work on craftsmanship indicating that crafts-work, which is a part of an organized community resembling the old “workshop,” explains in part how innovations originate in sport-specific and other local networks. These theories offer a sociological extension of pragmatic theories of learning, emphasizing the group in the tradition of Mead.

Index

Pages 267-274
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Cover of The Interaction Order
DOI
10.1108/S0163-2396201950
Publication date
2019-02-05
Book series
Studies in Symbolic Interaction
Editor
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78769-546-7
eISBN
978-1-78769-545-0
Book series ISSN
0163-2396