A Workin’ Man Can’t Get Nowhere Today

Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right
A Journey to the Heart of Our Political Divide
Arlie Russell Hochschild

Welcome to Tea Party America with your host, Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States. Many people find this fête unsettling. I’d rather understand why my worldview differs so much from that of the party throwers.

Luckily, I am not alone in that desire. Continue reading


Social Structure Seemed a Simple Thing

Selected Works of Herbert Blumer: A Public Philosophy for Mass Society
Herbert Blumer, Stanford M. Lyman and Arthur J. Vidich, Eds.


If you wait long enough, everything comes around again.

At least that’s how it seems to me. Those long gaps between acquiring a book and actually reading it are just me waiting for the zeitgeist to align with the author at hand and my interest of the moment.

So as soon as I picked up Blumer there he was in The New Yorker. Well not him, of course–Herbert George Blumer’s Continue reading

The World’s a Stage

The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life
Erving Goffman

I seem, unwittingly, to have taken the summer off. But the reading never stops and so it’s time to turn to the backlog.

Goffman_selfThe reading lists of my undergraduate years were filled with primary sources. That meant no textbooks but lots of things with famous and no-so-famous titles such as Suicide, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism and Obedience to Authority. Essentially these were the founding works of social science and their 20th century acolytes.

Among this august group of scholars is Erving Goffman, a gent with a Continue reading

What’s the matter with social science?

Missing Persons: A Critique of Personhood in the Social Sciences
Mary Doulas and Steven Ney 

Here’s a good way to irk sociologists: suggest that the science has been wrung out of social science. Durkheim came to teach us that social facts are things, subject to examination and experimentation. Sometimes it’s hard to believe social scientists believe that. The most minimal scientific rigor often seems to be missing from a lot of contemporary social science.

Mary Douglas and Steven Ney, the authors of  Missing Persons, think what’s gone missing is the social. More specifically, what they think has gone missing is the discrete unit of society, the person. Continue reading