SSSI Notes Vol.47 No. 2

The latest issue of the SSSI Newsletter with information on the 2019 conference and much more can be downloaded HERE.

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2019 Annual Meetings of the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction #sssi #sociology

The Program Planning Committee of the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction is pleased to call for papers that address this year’s conference theme or that engage with any other aspect of symbolic interaction:

“Power, Structure, and Intersectionality in Symbolic Interaction”

Symbolic Interactionism has long been plagued (fairly or unfairly) with accusations of having an astructural bias and failing to adequately engage with the dynamics of power. Many symbolic interactionist scholars have defended the SI perspective against this charge and some have put forward explicit arguments for interactionist conceptions of both structure and power (see, notably, Fine and Kleinmann, 1983; Prus, 1999; Athens 2015). However, the “myth” of the astructural bias has continued to loom over SI and has had a marginalizing effect on the perspective (McGinty 2016). Current socio-political concerns about identity, representation, and marginality are ripe for analyses rooted in the SI tradition: analyses which attend carefully and explicitly to issues of power, structure, and intersectionalities. Indeed, these concerns involve many of the “underdog” groups that symbolic interactionists, as ethnographers and qualitative researchers of the margins, have long been concerned with. The theme of this year’s annual meeting encourages symbolic interactionists to face the criticisms of astructural bias head-on and to engage with issues of power, diversity, social structure, and conflict as they are interactionally realized and experienced by individuals and groups and implicated in social life.

We encourage the submission of individual papers and complete thematic panels (3-4 papers) that engage with the conference theme including, but not limited to, such topics as:

Gender Relations                                                        Social stratification
Gender Diversity and Identity                                    Power in ethnographic research
Race and Racialization                                               Media and power in discourse
Sexualities                                                                  Stigma and Marginalization
Domination and Subordination                                  Self and Identity in the Context of Power Relations Conflict in social life                                                   Social institutions and power
Agency and constraint

As always, we are also interested in and will accept papers and panels that engage with any and all aspects of symbolic interactionism, including theory, method, pedagogy, and symbolic interactionist analyses of any and all substantive topics.

Submission Process:

Please make your submission to the conference organizers by sending the following information to symbolic.interaction2019@gmail.com by April 1, 2019.

Paper Title
Abstract (maximum 250 words)
Author(s) Name(s) and Institutional Affiliation(s)
Contact email and telephone number

If you are submitting a complete thematic panel, please include a panel title as well as individual information for all presenters and their papers.

Inquiries and questions may be addressed directly to Stacey Hannem at shannem@wlu.caor at the email above.
Accommodations and Planning to Attend:

A limited number of rooms has been reserved at the Westin New York at Times Square for conference attendees at a special rate of $255 (single/double occupancy), $285 (triple occupancy), and $315 (quad occupancy). To access this rate you must book your room by July 18, 2019.

Click Here to Book the group rate with Westin Times Square New York

 

Registration and Membership:

All presenters will be required to be members of SSSI at the time of the conference. Information about Membership and Conference Registration will follow.

Program Planning Committee
Stacey Hannem, Vice President SSSI, Wilfrid Laurier University (Chair)
Thaddeus Muller, Past-Vice President SSSI, Lancaster University
Tim Hallett, Vice President elect SSSI, Indiana University Bloomington
Lisa-Jo van den Scott, Treasurer SSSI, Memorial University of Newfoundland
Thomas DeGloma, Past-President SSSI, Hunter College and CUNY Graduate Center

2019 Annual Meetings of the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction

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New Book Review: Joe Kotarba on “Designed for Hi-Fi Living” #sssi #music #cct #sociology

Joe Kotarba’s excellent review of ‘Designed for Hi-Fi Living’

Symbolic Interaction (Journal) Blog

We have just published Joe Kotarba’s review of Janet Borgerson’s and Jonathan Schroeder’s ‘Designed for Hi-Fi Living’. Kotarba writes that “[T]heauthorscuratedawell-selectedgroupofmidcentury(1950sand1960s) Americanpoprecordalbums.Theyscouredrecordbins,fromProvidencetoBerkeley,andtheirownextensivecollectionforalbumcoversthattoldstoriesaboutthe Americandreamformiddle-classrespectability.Theauthorsinterpretandcritique themintermofthewaystheyrepresentorindexthemodern,postwarAmerican imagination.Thebookitselfissimplybeautiful.” 

SSSI members can download Kotarba’s review by clicking the image below. To join SSSI and subscribe to Symbolic Interaction from $31 (£23) please click HERE. 

Kotarba on Hi-fi Living

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New Book Review: Lee Blackstone reviews three books on music and wellbeing #sssi #music

An excellent review of three books on music and wellbeing has just been published in Symbolic Interaction.

Symbolic Interaction (Journal) Blog

There is plenty of interest in music and music related topics within interactionist sociology. Save for the large amount of research articles and book reviews in Symbolic Interaction we have the SSSI Music blog where J Sumerau and others explore music with an interactionist lens. Whilst music is largely seen in the context of culture and leisure as well as occasionally in the context of work there is a growing interest in the relationship between music and wellbeing. With regard to this latter discussion Lee Blackstone (SUNY Old Westbury) who recently published “The Aural and Moral Idylls of “Englishness” and Folk Music” in Symbolic Interaction“, has reviewed three books for our journal, “Sounding out Music and Health: Transforming Selfhood and Social Life through Musicking”:

Music Asylums: Wellbeing Through Music in Everyday Life. By Tia DeNora (Routledge, 2016)

How Music Helps in Music Therapy and Everyday Life.  By…

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What’s in a Name

“I don’t know what it’s called,” they say smiling, “But its track four, yeah, track four, this moment is definitely track four!”

“There is something about that song, you know the one with the thing about the elephant, there is something about it that just speaks to me, you know?”

“Oh, I’m like a completely different person when the right song comes on, I mean, I don’t tend to know the names of the songs, but the right ones just hit me and they mean something to me, I guess, something beyond, well, normal.”

Each of the quotes above are taken from interpersonal interactions over the last couple months. Whether talking to me or someone else within the vicinity of where I was, each of them represents an interesting aspect of meaning making via music. While people have talked about the importance of naming things for generating meaning and emotion, each of these cases reminds us that one need not know the given name of something for that social object to have influence upon their mood, experience, or selfhood. Rather, something can be named in any way – such as track four in the first case – by a person who finds meaning in that object.

This leads to an interesting interactionist question – what role does a given name play in processes of meaning making? In some cases, the given name of a song, place, person, or anything else may elicit very strong emotions – both negative and positive – that any other word or label might not generate. In other cases, however, the given name may easily be revised into something different or other in the ongoing confluence of interactional experiences and still offer just as much, if not more, meaning as the given or official name. In both cases, however, we see the attempt to both express the meaning of a given object by labeling it in some way with some kind of language and generate some kind of label or name for a given object once that object represents a meaning for a given person.

This also leads to questions about translation in the process of communication and meaning making in everyday life. When a given object, for example, is renamed or initially named, does that object then need translation to others or is the process of the naming the translational event itself? When one translates a feeling by expressing the way it is generated by an external source – like a song with or without a name – is said one engaging in a bit of symbolic conversation or simply utilizing whatever nearby resource is available to convey an idea or feeling? What if, as could be the case, each of these things and many others are happening at the same time in such interactions? How might we study such dynamics? How might we interpret them?

If we treat the exchange of music or musical references or other cultural artifacts and references to said artifacts as a conversational meaning exchange, what might we learn from systematic study of such exchanges? What might we learn about the names people give themselves and others, this object or that, and other things in their world? What might we learn about the significance of labels and categories and definitions more broadly in the flexibility of interactional experiences across the life course? These, I would suggest, are only a few questions that might be explored by paying attention to the ways people name and narrate references to this or that shared meaning or artifact in daily life.

J. Sumerau is the author of four novels and over 40 peer reviewed articles focused on sexualities, gender, religion, and health. For more information about their writing, visit jsumerau.com.

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Homecoming Queens & the Soundtracking of a Research-based Novel

After first publishing Cigarettes & Wine (see review in Symbolic Interaction) and later beginning my own independent series of sociological and queer based southern stories with Essence, I released my second research-based novel in the Social Fictions Series earlier this month – Homecoming Queens. Like Cigarettes & Wine and other works in the Social Fictions Series, this novel is a sociological narrative built upon observations and interviews (formal and informal). In this case, these data points come from LGBTQIA people, people of color, and working-class people in the southeastern United States utilized in combination with my own endeavors and formal studies as a sociological, interactionist, and queer mixed-methodological researcher. Written in the dual forms of a southern gothic novel and an observational account from a main character, the novel traces the experiences of a bi+ poly marital trio as they move from a large southern city back to the small town where two-thirds of the marital union grew up in their youth, and traces the ways the past influences and becomes relevant in the present for southern LGBTQIA people, small towns, families, relationships, and patterns of social inequality.

As I did with the release of Cigarettes & Wine, I have found myself thinking a lot about the ways music shaped this composition and release in much the same way it does with everything I write, publish, and / or promote following publication. While I have written about the process of creating the work elsewhere, here I want to return an earlier discussion of the soundtracking of existence – or the ways people may use music to make sense of their lives, creative scientific, artistic, or otherwise works and selves, and experiences over time. In this case, this novel owes largely to the release of Brandy Clark’s second studio album Big Day in a Small Town. While I use musical references to situate experiences throughout the book as I do in other books, in this case, the primary music that played as I took the varied data points and intertwined them into a narrative was this album. I specifically organized every aspect of the novel around homecomings of varied sorts, and this idea came to me initially as I listened to Clark’s song “homecoming queen,” and remembered the story and experience of a homecoming queen I knew from my years on the planet. As I composed the novel, I kept spinning Clark’s album as a kind of soundtrack to the story the same way I have with other records when writing other works.

This brings me back to the discussions on this site earlier in the year about the ways music may serve as a background expectation or illustration of varied feelings, thoughts, and landscapes we experience throughout our lives. Earlier this year, I wrote about this as a process of soundtracking existence in ways that make our narratives and selves more meaningful and emotionally coherent to us as well as more easily translatable to others. In the months since, I have also noted that I have begun some scholarly writing on this idea that I will share more about as it develops over time. The point I wish to return to here is the theoretical and empirical question of the ways people may engage in such tactics, consciously or otherwise, throughout their lives and in relation to whatever musical materials they come in contact with over time. I think these could be fascinating questions for interactionists and broader sociologies to explore concerning the role of arts and music specifically in the social construction and dissemination of who we are, how we do things, what we feel things mean in our lives at a given time or place in the life course. As such, I simply use this post to introduce my latest book, and remind us of a potentially fascinating question that could be explored in many social contexts throughout the world today.

J. Sumerau is an interactionist scholar and novelist, for more information on their novels and research, visit http://www.jsumerau.com. 

Posted in Blog, Book, Dramaturgy, Emotion, Interactionism, Music, music sssi | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Between the Sounds

The other day I did something I have done many times, but I thought about it more than I normally have, likely because I write this blog and occasionally do some music-related scholarly work nowadays. This leads me to regularly reflect on musical patterns I encounter even more than I normally would in case I realize something potentially useful to other scholars, researchers, or writers. It is a practice that has always comforted me, but not one I have ever really thought about all that much.

Simply put, someone will send me music – a mixtape, an album for some reason (they have given many over the years), and / or more recently links to songs online) – and I will respond in kind without necessarily commenting at all. I will send back music – generally in the same form, so a mixtape for a mixtape or a link for a link, for example. Especially if there is no original comment from them or me or however the exchange begins, I generally do not comment on what I send back or on what they send unless they ask explicitly or start commenting themselves. I don’t know, probably due to the lack of commentary in most cases, what they are actually doing or intending in such exchanges. I’ve never really concerned myself about this question, and didn’t really even notice it until I started thinking about the exchange process the other day. In my case, however, I know what I am doing (or at least whatever I am doing consciously that I have access to in my own thinking). I am sending something that reminds me of the them, me, and aspects of both if I start the exchange. If they start the exchange, I am sending back whatever their musical offering reminded me of in relation to them, me, and aspects of both.

For me, this is a fun conversation that takes place between the sounds of the given musical entities exchanged. Especially as someone who rarely understands hints, assumptions, or other forms of implicit communication without a lot of help or effort, it is likely the main form of implicit communication I have ever engaged in within my own life. There is no way to know for sure what they are saying, and there is no way to know for sure what I am saying to them from their perspective or viewpoint. This is, as conversational scholars have long noted, not uncommon in mainstream interaction rituals in modern society, but it is uncommon for someone like me because generally I only catch what someone says directly and only reply in a direct fashion unless I stop myself and think about it for a specific reason (i.e., a boss, a request explicitly made by someone, etc.).

It hit me the other day that no matter what this type of conversation might be, mean, or feel like to others, for me, it is one of the closest ways I get to experiencing the type of “information game” Goffman and others note in the vast majority of interactions between people. The songs give information and give off impressions, but there is no concrete, explicit, discussion. This is the way most discussions in the world take place (i.e., people try to read, guess, or hypothesize what is meant behind the words), but this is the opposite of what I generally experience (i.e., there is nothing behind my words generally and I don’t think to look further into what might be behind the words of others without considerable effort – and years of practice – doing so). Even more so, however, it hits me that sharing music – and the potential meanings between the sounds – could be an interesting metaphor for looking at broader forms of interpersonal interaction and communication between people in varied settings and contexts. This, I would say, might be a fascinating way to explore social interaction via centralization of music, meaning, impression, and interpretation.

J. Sumerau is an interactionist scholar and novelist, for more information on their novels and research, visit http://www.jsumerau.com. 

 

 

Posted in Blog, Dramaturgy, Music, music sssi, symbolic interaction | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment