New Article by Ditte Andersen: “Giving Clients a Backstage Experience: A Case of Dramaturgical Trouble in the Professional Performance of Drug Treatment”

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.


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New article: “Fragments of Modernization: Domestic Spaces Indicating Traditional Dialects in a Modern Speech” by Ozge Merzali Celikoglu

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.


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Neuroscience, Brain science, etc.

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 ComputersSymbolic Interaction. Vol.37(2): 312-314.

Andrew S. Balmer. 2013. This is your Brain on NeuroscienceSymbolic Interaction. Vol.37(2): 309-311.


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Masculine Status, Sexual Performance, and the Sexual Stigmatization of Women by Brian N. Sweeney out on Early View

Relationships between the sexes on campus is topic that has been at the center of public debate for decades and probably will be for the time to come. Over the past year or so, the New York Times run a number of articles concerned with “The Dating World of Tomorrow“, “The End of Courtship?“,  conversations about sex on campus, and many others. A common theme of these and related debates is the role of masculinity in college and the assumption that in college fraternities male students may sexually stigmatise their female colleagues. Brian N. Sweeny’s article that has just been published on Early View of Symbolic Interaction is based on a study that explores the role of masculinity and peer relationships in fraternity members’ attitude toward female students. 

The abstract and article can be found here.

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Joe Kotarba on ‘Symbolic Interaction and Applied Social Research’

In the UK in particular, but I presume elsewhere as well here has been a lot of discussion about the “impact” of sociology and related social research. Over on Martyn Hammersley has challenged the unreflected demands for impact and the often naive calls for evidence-based policy and practice.

Symbolic Interactionism of course was founded on basis that research and practice/policy are closely interlinked. This is well reflected in the work of Jane Addams and the political engagement of the sociologists of the Chicago School of the early 1900s. Joe Kotarba has taken up the debate about praxis-relevance of social research and argues that the distinction “between basic and applied research is outdated and dysfunctional”. His paper “Symbolic Interactionism and Applied Social Research: A Focus on Translational Science” is out on Early View.


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Applied Ethnography – Call for Book Reviewer

Joe Kotarba’s recent article “Symbolic Interaction and Applied Research” in Symbolic Interaction is very timely and coincides with the publication of a number of very interesting applied ethnographies. The field of applied ethnography of course is not a new area of research but ethnographic methods have a long history in business and management – although as Robert Dingwall recently wrote on “Quantophrenia is Back in Town” in the social sciences. I have just received a list of applied ethnographies published by Left Coast Press that I would like to have reviewed in a Review Essay by one book reviewer. The length for the review would be roughly 1800 words. If you are interested in writing the review please get in touch with me at

Here are the books:

Giti Jordan, ed. Advancing Ethnography in Corporate Environments
Sam Ladner, Practical Ethnography
Patti Sunderland and Rita Denny,  eds. Doing Anthropology in Consumer Research
Brian Moeran, The Business of Creativity
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“Almost Great” – On Early View – Alexander Stingl’s review of ‘Imagining Illness’

Visual images have been of growing importance in Western Public Health. David Serlin’s edited collection “Imagining Illness. Public Health and Visual Culture” (Minnesota University Press 2010) compiles original chapters by an international authorship who explore public health features in and is influenced by visual culture. Alexander Stingl’s review of the book “Almost Great” that has just been published on Early View of Symbolic Interaction critically evaluates the contribution of the volume and the way in which it discusses, or fails to discuss, the relationship between “visual culture” and “public health culture”.


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