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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…
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.
The First International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry took place at the campus of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), in May 2005. At the invitation of…
The First International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry took place at the campus of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), in May 2005. At the invitation of the conference organizer, Norman Denzin, a special panel was formed to recognize the recent publication of A Methodology of the Heart: Evoking Academic and Daily Life, by Ronald J. Pelias (Pelias, 2004). The distinguished panelists were four of Pelias’ colleagues: Carolyn Ellis, Denise Menchaca, Lesa Lockford, and Norman Denzin. A day earlier, many members of the audience had also attended one of the congress’ featured panels entitled “Performing Autoethnography.” This session, chaired by Pelias, had standing room only, and showcased performances by three of his current doctoral students at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale (SIUC). That these performance studies scholars had reached the hearts and minds of those present was evidenced in the passionate responses to each presentation, and the audience calls to Pelias and his students to share this methodology widely and make it a more visible presence and practice within qualitative research circles.
The controversy about performance ethnography and other new modes of sociological reporting in the US tends to be highly partisan and often uninformed. Toscano, one of a…
The controversy about performance ethnography and other new modes of sociological reporting in the US tends to be highly partisan and often uninformed. Toscano, one of a handful of symbolic interactionists in Italy, places new modes of reporting, which he calls “artistic performances,” in the proper historical and contextual perspective. He points out that the boundaries between art and everyday life and art and science are changing and can no longer be viewed as dichotomous and it is time to redefine the fluid relation between these different realms.Toscano identifies C. Wright Mills as the first sociologist to stress the relationship between the arts and sociology to the point of referring to his work as a “sociological poem.” Not coincidentally Norman Denzin and other supporters of new mode of sociological reporting invoke a return to C. Wright Mills, not only for his poetics of expression but for his quest and passion to help the downtrodden.Toscano analyzes the artistic productions of Goffman, Denzin, and others, focusing on the production of new sociologies that are no longer mere “texts” but become “performances.” He realizes that performance can only partially communicate the emotional struggle of those we study. Yet with its pathos and its passion performance can begin to melt the crystal palace of modernistic meta-theoretical sociology. Andrea Fontana; University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Norman Denzin organized the Urbana SSSI Stone Symposium, where I first met Patricia. He and I share the dual identities of sociologist and communication scholar. Given all he has published as well as the publishing opportunities he has provided others, Norman has done more for interpretive social sciences and symbolic interaction than anyone I know. He has been instrumental in my career, especially when I was a young scholar. The first person to identify my work as schizophrenic, Norman said I made a plea for interpretive, imaginative inquiry, and then turned hard science against it. This was a transforming moment, a moment in which I stopped judging my creative work by the standards of traditional science and instead focused on articulating what my work contributed to understanding emotionality and meaning in our lives. As a colleague and friend, Norman's role in my life is personal and political.
It is a pleasure to comment on the celebration of my work by three of my dearest friends and most respected colleagues. At first I fretted over whether I had produced a “work,” especially one that could be celebrated. So the comments offered by Joseph Schneider, Michal McCall, and Norman Denzin at the World Congress of Qualitative Inquiry in 2005 and published in this issue were a gift to me. Schneider, Mc Call, and Denzin have drawn a line of thought through my writing, which has invited me to reflect on my career as a scholar and teacher in the discipline of Sociology. I want to express my gratitude to them and I will do so at the close of these remarks.
This paper has two purposes. First, I offer a reading of interpretive biography (Denzin, 1989a) as an alternative method for understanding how individual lives are…
This paper has two purposes. First, I offer a reading of interpretive biography (Denzin, 1989a) as an alternative method for understanding how individual lives are rendered meaningful in postmodern communication processes. Second, given the importance of many rock performers as cultural heroes, I present an interpretive biography of Pete Townshend, chief songwriter and most visible member of the classic rock band the Who. This method of inquiry is grounded in the more general tradition of interpretive interactionism (Denzin, 1989b, 1990a) and has its roots in C. Wright Mills's (1959) concept of the sociological imagination. Its guiding question is this: How is the postmodern self (or stated more accurately, selves) created within and sustained by the mass media? I argue that as postmodern cultural symbols, Townshend and the band (however ambiguously) mirror a collective search for identity on the part of audiences and society-at-large.