In his review of Rosalyn Darling’s book “Disability and Identity” Alex I. Thompson highlights the pervasiveness of ‘identity’ as a theme in symbolic interactionist research and publications such as our journal. Hence, it is not surprising that a book like Darling’s is reviewed in Symbolic Interaction and also that it has a strong relationship to one of the key authors in sociology, Erving Goffman, who the journal devoted a Special Issue to early this year. Thompson says that “Darling’s piece revitalizes interactionist and identity scholarship of decades passed while simultaneously paving the way for crucial future advancements theoretically and practically.” To read the review, go here
At this summer’s SSSI 2015 Conference in San Francisco the journal’s editor, Robert Dingwall, interviewed Peter M. Hall. The interview covers various aspects of Professor Hall’s career, including his long-standing interest in power, and the current Call for Paper for a Special Issue of Symbolic Interaction on Space and Time issued by Professor Hall.
Click here for the Interview
There is an ongoing interest in the impact of work on people’s lives and health. Recent news coverage, such as this article in the Financial Times (paywall), particularly highlights the psychological impact of work on people. The focus on “psychological” impacts and “”cognitive” mechanisms that people apply to cope with stress and bullying at work obstructs access to the interactional practices that people employ to create more pleasant work environments and experiences at work. In symbolic interactionism and related work in particular Arlie Russell Hochschild has famously studied “emotion work”. Recently, Pernilie Stroebaeck’s article “Let’s have a cup of Coffee” (published in Vol.36(4) of Symbolic Interaction) has taken up the topic in a different way by exploring how workers use coffee breaks as opportunities to deal with stress and work and to form “coping communities”.
Ditte Andersen’s article, just published on Early View, explores the role of clients and professionals in achieving change through drug treatment.
Professionals who provide drug treatment to young people seek to approach clients as agents of change, i.e., highlight clients’ agency and ownership of treatment plans. On the basis of ethnographic data from two treatment institutions in Denmark, this article investigates how everyday interaction organizes clients’ experiences in ways that alternately support and contradict this professional ambition. Notably, findings indicate that talk and material arrangements “backstage” make professionals, not clients, appear as the real agents of change. Clients are increasingly encouraged to participate in meetings “backstage,” where treatment is organized, but, contrary to intentions, clients may experience participation as debasing rather than empowering.
Ozge Merzali Celikoglu’s article “Fragments of Modernization” that was just published on Early View examines recent changes in Turkish domestic spaces and in particular the increasing featuring of lace that can be found in both ‘traditional’ and ‘modern’ domestic settings. By drawing on Latour’s Actor-Network-Theory (ANT) and using , interviews and ethnography the article examines the different meanings and forms of use of lace in various homes.
A recent article in the New York times written by Gary Marcus discusses current difficulties, challenges and debates about brain simulations, brain images and their use and usefulness for understanding with schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s. He also highlights that there now is a wide range of popular science books that make claims about the opportunities brain imaging technology offer for example to market researchers. At the centre of his article is the emphasis on the lack of a theory of the brain that would or could allow neuroscientists, biologists and others who gather data related to brain activity to arrive at valid conclusions. Hence, claims made in these popular science books and also at market research conferences should be taken with a pinch of salt. Recent book reviews in Symbolic Interaction address these debates. For example,
in the most recent issue of the journal (Vol.37, 2(May)) Patrick Watson reviews Moran Alač “Handling Digital Brains” a book devoted to the practice involved in analysing fMRI scans, and Andrew S. Balmer reviews Martyn Pickersgill und Ira van Keulen’s “Sociological Reflections on the Neurosciences“.
Links to the Book Reviews
Patrick Watson. 2013. Handling Digital Brains: A Laboratory Study of Multimodal Semiotic Interaction in the Age of Computers. Symbolic Interaction. Vol.37(2): 312-314.
Andrew S. Balmer. 2013. This is your Brain on Neuroscience. Symbolic Interaction. Vol.37(2): 309-311.