Radical Interactionism and Critiques of Contemporary Culture: Volume 52

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Table of contents

(15 chapters)

Prelims

Pages i-xii
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Abstract

Body-worn cameras (BWCs) are quickly becoming standardized police equipment. Axon Enterprise, a United States company based in Scottsdale, Arizona, is currently the worldwide purveyor of BWCs having near-complete control over the police body camera market. In 2012, the company launched their Axon Flex body camera alongside claims about the efficacy of these devices. While the research is expanding, scholarship has yet to explore the role that stakeholders like Axon may play in the implementation of body cameras across police services. This empirical chapter examines claims made by Axon in media in relation to the efficacy of their body cameras over a six-year period (2012–2018). Three themes relative to our analysis of Axon claims emerged: officer and community safety; cost and officer efficiency; and accountability and transparency. A basic finding that cut across all three themes is that most of Axon's claims appear to be shaped by beliefs and assumptions. We also found that Axon's claims were mostly predicated on the market (i.e., financial considerations), rather than say scientifically or legally grounded. Some suggestions for future research are noted.

Abstract

The essay explores the profound nature and consequences of subjectivity struggles in everyday life. W. E. B. Du Bois's concept of double consciousness and its constituent concepts of the veil, twoness, and second sight illuminate the process of racialized self-formation. Racialized self-formation contributes to understanding the cultural reproduction of domination and subjugation, the two primary concerns of radical interactionists. Double consciousness, long ignored by symbolic interactionists, cannot be neglected by radical interactionists if they are to articulate a comprehensive account of self-formation in a white-supremacist culture. Reflections on racialization, meritocracy, and subjectivity struggles in contemporary everyday life conclude the essay.

Abstract

This article combines Mead's notion of sociality with his implicit theory of morality. Specifically, it uses Mead's emphasis on temporality to analyze decisions made by key characters in the cinematic adaptation (Amazon TV) of Philip Dick's novel, The Man in the High Castle. Using a selective and subversive method to read into this adaptation, I regard Mead's view of morality as complex and as distinguishing between a morality in the specious present and a morality grounded in sociality. The paper links Mead and Mead's pragmatic emphasis to varieties of characters representing immoral foils (e.g., Nazis) and everyday lives to show how morality can emerge from a variety of standpoints, locating Mead's position as distinct from moral absolutism and moral relativity.

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Abstract

Writing is one of the key features of the life and work of the symbolic interactionist. The foundation of good writing is the establishment of the self and identity of the interactionist qua writer. The best writers are those who write constantly – not necessarily in formal text form but also in term of journals, note-taking, and so forth. Writing does not retrieve our ideas from our minds and memories; it creates them as retrievable gems of our work. My argument is that, as symbolic interactionists, we have the opportunity, if not responsibility, to position the drama of everyday life in our writing because our respondents experience their everyday lives dramatically.

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Abstract

Mead's notion of “reflexivity” is one of his key ideas. Our mind “bends” or “flexes” back to itself in this process. Mead argues that universal ideas were first attained reflexively when humans could understand their own communications; for example, when the primate mother could both indicate to her children where food was and also give herself the same message. These two cases, viewed together, constituted the first “universal” (for Mead). This contrasted with the traditional theory of universals, which had the knower abstracting the universal idea, i.e. the “essence,” from a group of particulars. Mead's universal is not essentialist but linguistic. It is syntactic and not ontological. This allowed him to sidestep the problem of essences (since no one could find any, anyway). Mead's version shows how reflexivity may have first originated, in the evolutionary process, though he does not actually prove this. I examine reflexivity itself here, singling out several varieties. I look at self-referencing pronouns (especially “I”) and show how Cooley's observations of his daughter's use of pronouns clarified this process. I also examine the reflexivity of recognizing one's own face in the mirror. Mead said the body could not be reflexive, but self-recognition in a mirror is a form of bodily reflexivity. And there are several others, for example the varieties of bodily meditation, that Mead missed. Recognizing this reflexivity introduces the body (and, therefore, gender) early in Mead's theory, rather than late, as he has it. This point also opens him to a badly needed infusion of feminist thought, such as that of Nancy Chodorow. The self-recognizing mirror face is, as Lacan points out, “all smiles.” This insight also introduces emotion early into Mead. As it is, he has emotion late, as a kind of afterthought. This paper then promotes a badly needed feminization of Mead.

Abstract

This is a two-voice autoethnographic dialogue about Rousseau's Confessions and their relevance for the contemporary autoethnograpy. The paper examines the possibility that Rousseau was not only the creator of modern autobiography but also a forerunner of autoethnography. Many features of the Rousseau's masterpiece are analyzed and systematically compared to our contemporary autoethnographic sensibility: the purposes which brought him to write an outstandingly detailed description of his life; the fact that he acknowledges autobiography as the only source of true knowledge; his obsession for sincerity and his strong will to disclose all the truth about his own life to his readers (included the dreadful things that he did); the authority that he assigned to the readers in deciding about the truthfulness of his tale; his concern for the ethical issues and the care of the others; and the therapeutic value that he recognized to the practice of writing about themselves. In the end, Jean-Jacques was not only extraordinarily able to use his emotions to analyze human nature, but also he was a radical autobiographer at the limits of intransigence. His considerations on the value of autobiography can help us greatly to legitimize contemporary autoethnographic practice.

Abstract

This autoethnography takes up the matter of toxic masculinity in university settings. We introduce the term “status silencing” as a way to make visible the normalization of toxic masculinity in everyday talk and interaction in university settings among and around colleagues. Status silencing is the process in which the status of a dominant individual becomes a context which renders the story of an individual with a subordinated status untellable or untold. Using strange accounting, we explore active and passive types of status silencing to show how talk and interactions involving toxic masculinity are both internalized and externalized expressions of power and dominance. We argue that while most scholars view toxic masculinity as blatant acts of violence (mass shootings, rape and sexual assault, etc.), it is also a normalized occurrence for feminized others and that toxic masculinity in academic settings is part of an ongoing institutional norm of silence.

Abstract

This chapter explores that landscape between the imagination and practice of ethnographic research as well as a concomitant transition in a sociologist's felt identity. Specifically, it describes the larger effect of building a persona for fieldwork on the self of the ethnographer. The work begins with an examination of the motives behind a proposed study of a deviant counterculture and the efforts that went into crafting a presentation of self appropriate for the milieu. It offers a detailed analysis of the social foundations of the outlaw motorcycle culture and a phase model of their socialization process.

Abstract

This paper analyzes the beginning of the journalistic career of the youngest members of Página/12 and Tiempo Argentino newspapers from Buenos Aires, Argentina. The ethnographic research took place in the newsrooms between 2011 and 2015 to study the socialization process of young reporters and interns in media press. With this goal in mind, it explores how they learn the values and practical rules of the journalistic world, starting with the interactions they engage on with other members of that environment, such as their colleagues and editors, as well as how they deal with the sources. The research was structured in five dimensions of analysis that contributed to explain the socialization process: (1) The channels and strategies to enter the journalistic field, (2) the newcomers' rites de passage, (3) the forms of socialization within the newsrooms, (4) the identification processes, and (5) the strategies that these young people implement in the medium term to stay in the journalistic world.

Abstract

The paper will concentrate on the Grounded Theory Methodology (GTM) from the point of view of the contemplative social sciences (CSS). It will analyze how the mind is engaged in the construction of concept and what the role is of the consciousness of the mind's work in creating a theory that is based on the analysis of empirical data. We will review the research and analytical methods that could be inspirations for Contemplative Grounded Theory (CGT): constructivist grounded theory, classic grounded theory, transformational grounded theory, sociological introspection, holistic ethnography, mindful inquiry and transformational phenomenology, and contemplative qualitative inquiry.

We can find in many classical books from grounded theory (GT) some seeds of contemplative thinking, and we can reconstruct them (Glaser and Strauss, 1967; Glaser, 1978; Strauss, 1987). We would like to develop the inspirations more and perhaps change the sense of GT after the contemplative turn. We would like to show the possibilities of using CGT in research and also its limitations. Some empirical examples from research and analysis will be given to show how contemplation could be used in GT.

Abstract

Goffman (1963) provided us with an explanation of the operation of stigma in microinteractional contexts. However, his definition and explication of the experiences and processes of stigmatization predate what many consider to be the most major shift in discourse and categorization to develop in the twentieth century – the rise of the language of risk. In this chapter, I discuss the intersections of risk discourse and stigma. Drawing on my empirical research with families affected by incarceration, I illustrate the shift toward structural stigma as an exercise of power and governance. I argue that contemporary “common-sense” understandings and usage of the term stigma emphasize negative individual interactions while ignoring the ways that risk categorizations, even in seemingly benign contexts, create structural disadvantage and serve to “other” stigmatized individuals. Singular focus on stigma at the microinteractional level, particularly in destigmatization campaigns, obscures the pervasive structural stigma couched in the language of risk management that permits systematic marginalization.

Abstract

Human agents are constantly using “symbols,” according to G. H. Mead, or “signs,” as C. S. Peirce called them, to engage in what Mikhail Bakhtin has called “dialogues” with each other or with the environment. Such vehicles of communication are not freestanding ones but are drawn from specific and demarcated discursive formations. So drawn, these vehicles are then put to use, as Kenneth Burke has shown in his dramatistic perspective on human social life, as agencies used by human agents to construct acts, in defined situations or scenes – that is social situations and physical locations – to display given attitudes, in order to fulfill one purpose or another. Every human move that an individual makes has these Burkean features. Such moves are used to engage in either convivial dramas or confrontational ones.

Abstract

We examine the work undertaken by salespersons in the menswear department of a well-known department store in New York City that sells specialized “luxury” clothing by using the theoretical perspective developed by Kenneth Burke, the philosopher of language and communication. He has argued that the most comprehensive way to describe human conduct is to examine what was done, what attitude did it manifest, where was it done, who did it, and how was it done. Burke summarized these questions as act, attitude, scene, agent, agency, and purpose. With these terms comprising a “hexad,” a great deal of complexity can be captured within an organizational context. Indeed, Burke refers to these terms as “the grammar of motives” – that is, the motives of human conduct (1969a, 1968). In the carefully staged menswear environment we find salesmen who negotiate the goals and purposes of the store as well as their individual motives through implicitly defined sequences of acts on the selling floor.

Index

Pages 237-242
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Cover of Radical Interactionism and Critiques of Contemporary Culture
DOI
10.1108/S0163-2396202152
Publication date
2021-04-30
Book series
Studies in Symbolic Interaction
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-83982-029-8
eISBN
978-1-83982-028-1
Book series ISSN
0163-2396