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Introduction to Social Analysis:. Week 5: Being Different How do people manage being different?. What can be learnt about everyday interaction from impediments, disruption, or normative breech?

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introduction to social analysis

Introduction to Social Analysis:

Week 5: Being Different

how do people manage being different
How do people manage being different?
  • What can be learnt about everyday interaction from impediments, disruption, or normative breech?
  • Studying impediments to interaction can reveal the unnoticed, taken for granted, requirements for interaction.
  • How can we theorise identity and self?
symbolic interaction
Symbolic interaction
  • George Herbert Mead
  • “The individual experiences himself as such, not directly, but only indirectly, from the particular standpoints of other individual members of the same social group, or from the generalized standpoint of the social group as a whole…” G.H.Mead (1934 ) Mind, Self and Society. University of Chicago Press.
  • “looking glass self” Cooley 1902
  • “generalized other” Mead 1934
  • Mark Hyde Chapter 11 “Disability” in Payne, G. (2006) Social Divisions. 2nd Ed. Basingstoke: Palgrave. Introduces the ‘social model of disability’.
  • Charmaz, K. (2000). “Experiencing Chronic Illness” Handbook of Social Studies in Health and Medicine. Albrecht, G, Fitzpatrick, R. and Susan C. Scrimshaw. London, Sage: 277-292. Summarises the field of the sociology of illness particularly those which attempt to engage with an actor perspective. A field in which her own work is exemplary.
social model of disability
“Debates about the meaning of disability in the social science literature typically centre on two definitions. ‘Official’ or ‘Medical’ definitions tend to focus on the functional limitations of people with impairments, whereas the disabled people’s movement has defined disability as the social restrictions faced by disabled people in their daily lives.” (Hyde 2006:252)Social model of disability
“We define impairment as lacking all or part of a limb, or having a defective limb, organ or mechanism of the body; and disability as the disadvantage or restriction of activity caused by a contemporary social organisation which takes no or little account of people with physical impairments and thus excludes them from participation in the mainstream of social activities “ (Union of Physically Impaired Against Segregation 1976: 14 cited by Hyde 2006:254)
Social expectations of ‘normality’ built into transport, technology, work and social systems.

Were there dyslexics before writing was invented?

Mentally handicapped

used to be employed in routine manual work in sheltered workshops – no longer any manual work mechanised or sent overseas.

Teignmouth controversy over holiday scheme – exclusion by fear

  • Goffman Erving 1963 Stigma notes on the management of spoiled identity Englewood Cliffs Prentice-Hall 301.11 GOF
Cerrie Burnell BBC presenter
  • Will look at media later
Stigmata"Stigmata is a phenomenon observed in a number of Christian saints and mystics for which no satisfactory natural explanation has been offered yet. It consists of the appearance, on the body of a living person, of wounds or scars corresponding to those of the crucified Christ. The first and most celebrated stigmatization of this kind is that of St. Francis of Assisi." Encyclopedia Britannica. Stigmata
Impression management - interaction strategies in problematic situations.
  • Stigma - managing a spoiled identity
  • “A stigma, then, is really a special kind of relationship between attribute and stereotype
  • 3 kinds of stigma: -
    • physical deformities - deviant physical appearance.
    • blemishes of individual character - deviant social traits alcoholism, criminality, mental health.
    • “tribal stigma” of race, nation, and religion - labels inherited through the family.
Almost anything can become stigmatised - Goffman tries to generalise the interactional strategies for dealing with them.
  • cure,
  • concealment,
  • bravado - defiance - challenge
  • burden and blessing – ‘given me new insight’
  • avoidance - segregation
  • Asylums - staff strategies, inmate strategies.
Charmaz, Kathy. 1991 Good days, bad days : the self in chronic illness and time New Brunswick, N.J : Rutgers University Press

She describes her purpose in writing the book as

  • to look deeply into the experience of chronic illness, starting from the perspective of ill people themselves
  • to explore different ways that people experience chronic illness and to examine their implications for the emerging self, and
  • to show how the struggle for control over illness and for control over time is a struggle to control the defining images of self.
living with a serious illness means overcoming stigmatizing judgments
Living with a serious illness means overcoming stigmatizing judgments
  • “Progressive gains. Plummeting losses. Plateau. At forty-none, Nancy Swenson experienced each phase during her eight years of debilitating symptoms from carcinoid tumors. When Nancy was very sick, her illness drained her of energy, pulled her into her physical self, obliterated her ability to concentrate, impaired her vision, and robbed her of sleep. Increasingly her medications resulted in more symptoms, including lethargy and depression. From an overwhelming physical dependence to an independence that belied her condition, Nancy Swenson experienced the good days and bad days that marked her illness.
  • After two years of contesting negative decisions on her application for a disability benefit through Social Security, Nancy received a temporary benefit.” (Charmaz 1991:1)
  • She continues the story in Nancy’s own words:

So Chamaz gives an account of how Nancy manages good days and bad days while caring for a mother with Alzhiemers, unreliable children, and dodgy tenants and how she would like to have remarried but cannot afford to as it would cost her state medical support.

withdrawal management of time
Withdrawal, management of time
  • Frequently ill people limit their activity and autonomy rather than tacitly affirm that they have suffered further physical losses. To them, acknowledging decline symbolizes an intolerable assault on their self-concepts. Illness threatens to leave a permanent stigma.
  • Charmaz develops an analysis of the experience of time, pointing out such strategies as people viewing their chronic illness as temporary to avoid acknowledging a negative identity.
  • “the social repercussions of requesting help may prove too costly.
  • Lin Bell, a middle-aged woman with heart disease, worked as a janitor with a team of men. After her first bypass surgery she said:
  • “I have a lifting restriction on me at work and if the guys see – they are always coming by and saying, “Now you take it easy” and we have these great big barrels that we roll around and fill with trash and stuff and if they see me going, heading out… to the dumpster to dump that, they’re right there, real protective. But I won’t ask. I don’t want any special treatment. I don’t like to be treated as less than I feel that I am.” (Charmaz 1991:22)
strategies of packaging and passing
Strategies of packaging and passing
  • “Many people want to keep their intrusive illness hidden – at least in public, if not also from self; they work at keeping illness contained. They try not to let it rule their lives. They wish to continue at least a semblance of their former lives. Above all, they refuse to rely on their illness as a ready-made excuse for shirking obligations. They may also fear loss and rejection due to stigma.
  • Hence, these people try to keep illness contained through two interrelated strategies: packaging and passing.
  • Packaging means presenting the self so that illness remains contained, separate from the public, and usually, the private self.
  • Passing means functioning without detection of either the illness or its effects.” p.66
One of the examples she gives of packaging is Vera who describes her illness as a ‘condition’ and said “it used to be separate from my life; it used to be something that only when other people forced me to, I’d pay attention to, or only when I pushed myself too far, I’d pay attention to. … I don’t want to be a sick person.”
  • Examples of passing include not merely non-disclosure but use of others in the know to monitor and stand-in when the mask is slipping.
moral career judgments of incompetence
Moral career, judgments of incompetence
  • “Ill people, like this woman who had a bowel dysfunction, find “that I can talk about this disease but that I can’t find anyone to listen.” Although she spoke freely about her pain and sudden diarrhoea to immediate co-workers, they cut her off. She needed support and care from her lover, but he could not tolerate the dirt and disorders her condition caused and therefore he either ignored or castigated her.
  • As Mitteness (1987) points out, bodily control is a prerequisite to competent adult status. Thus, the lack of such control goes beyond forcing disclosure; it threatens to elicit judgments of inadequacy and incompetence. To the extent that others impose their judgments and that ill people share them, they will avoid both disclosures and situations in which their symptoms might become apparent.” (Charmaz 1991:117)
cooling the mark out
“Cooling the Mark Out”
  • Erving Goffman is seen as the founding father of symbolic interactionism. His early pioneering paper “Cooling the Mark Out” published in Studies in Social Process (Rose 1960) dealt chiefly with interactional strategies for adaptation to loss of status: with defences, consolations, mitigations, compensations, and the like.
  • ... a mark who requires cooling out is a person who can no longer sustain one of his social roles and is about to be removed from it; he is a person who is losing one of his social lives and is about to die one of the deaths that are possible for him. This leads one to consider the ways in which we can go or be sent to our death in each of our social capacities, the ways , in other words, of the handling the passage from the role that we had to a state of having it no longer. (Goffman 1960:503)
cooling the mark
Cooling the mark
  • The central focus of his argument is to reveal how the con man who wants the mark to go home quietly and absorb a loss, the restaurant hostess who wants a customer to eat quietly and go way without causing trouble, attempt to deal with the interaction. He argues that underlying these interactions there is the assumption that persons are institutionally related to each other in such a way that if a mark allows himself to be cooled out, then the cooler need have no further concern with him.
  • Goffman also points out that there is also the assumption that persons are sentimentally related to each other in such a way that if a person allows himself to be cooled out, however great the loss he has sustained, then the cooler withdraws all emotional identification from him, but if the mark cannot absorb the injury to his self and if he becomes personally disorganised in some way, then the cooler cannot help but feel guilt and concern over the predicament.
  • Goffman concludes that it is this feeling of guilt, this small of measure of social involvement in the feelings of others which helps to make the job of cooling the mark out distasteful, wherever it appears. It is this incapacity to be insensitive to the suffering another person when he brings his suffering right to your door which tends to make the job of cooling a species of dirty work.
self and identity
Self and Identity
  • One sense of identity is the social identity ascribed to you by others
  • Another sense of identity is an internalised persona – who I feel I am
  • In our highly individualistic culture not always understood to the extent to which this second meaning of self is also a social product
replacement lecture 11
Replacement lecture 11.
  • Week 11. Reading popular culture
  • Why do people watch soap operas, horror films, and other popular genres. Are they escaping from reality, living in an illusory world, or just enjoying themselves and making money for Hollywood? What does the mass media do to culture and society? Do we live in a ‘hyperreality' where the images are more real than 'reality'.
  • Reading: Saukko, Paula (2003) Doing research in cultural studies : an introduction to classical and new methodological approaches.London: SAGE, Chapter 2.
  • Studies:
  • Ang, Ien (1985). Watching Dallas: soap opera and the melodramatic imagination translated by Della Couling. London; New York: Methuen, 791 ANG
  • Radway, Janice A.( 1984) Reading the romance : women, patriarchy and popular literature Chapel Hill ; London : University of North Carolina Press,
  • Paul Willis Profane Cultures 301.23 WIL