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Sociologies of Interaction

Alex Dennis, Rob Philburn, Greg Smith

ISBN: 978-0-745-67202-1 October 2013 Polity 248 Pages


Social interaction lies at the heart of our everyday experience. We make our way down the street and avoid crashing into others, take our place in the supermarket queue, take care in the way we talk about others in conversation, acknowledge the social status of people we meet, and enjoy leisurely pursuits in the company of friends and like-minded others. All these things are fundamental parts of human sociality that can be discovered and understood through ‘sociologies of interaction’.

This book provides an invaluable introduction to the theoretical foundations and practical applications of interactionist approaches to everyday life. Beginning with an overview of three core traditions - symbolic interactionism, ethnomethodology and conversation analysis, along with Goffman’s work on the interaction order - the text moves on to examine in detail topics such as leisure, work, health and illness, deviance, class, status and power, education, ethnic relations and gender. Highlighting a range of empirical studies, the book shows how sociologies of interaction have the capacity to reframe and make us rethink conventional social science topics.

This illuminating book will be of interest to undergraduates across the social sciences, particularly in sociology, social psychology and communication studies, as well as those who have an interest in understanding the interactional underpinnings of everyday life.

Introduction page 1

1 Pragmatism and Symbolic Interactionism 8

2 Phenomenology and Ethnomethodology 35

3 Conversation Analysis and the Interaction Order 63

4 Status and Power 98

5 The Body, Health and Illness 121

6 Work 142

7 Deviance 162

8 Leisure 188

Conclusion 208

Notes 219

References 221

Index 237

"Written by internationally recognized experts in the field, the first part of this book is an excellent guide to the different strands of qualitative sociology. The authors are able to convey complicated ideas in clear and accessible language. The authors then demonstrate that these ideas have a tangible impact on our understanding of a range of contemporary social issues. I highly recommend Sociologies of Interaction."
Philip Manning, Cleveland State University

"It neither simplifies the complexity of the three key approaches to social interaction, nor does it complicate the elegant simplicity of their central ideas. Along the way students are offered dozens of empirical hooks to hang the ideas from, leaving little excuse for losing their interactionist hats. Not so much a foundation, then, as a hallway connecting into a number of further intriguing rooms."
Eric Laurier, Edinburgh University
  • An illuminating introduction to one of the two main branches of sociology
  • Provides a comprehensive and intelligible overview of the theoretical foundations and practical applications of interactionist approaches in sociology
  • Covers the core traditions with reference to substantive topics such as work, health and illness, deviance, class, education, ethnic relations and gender
  • Without sacrificing intellectual quality, its introductory nature will make it ideal reading for students of sociology, social psychology & communication studies