Existential sociology provides scholars with a dramatic and adventurous way of understanding the workings of everyday life. It highlights the importance of individuals, their emotions, and their constructed interaction with social structures and cultural contexts built around them. The idea of an existential sociology, first developed a quarter century ago, has remained robust within symbolic interactionist circles. This collection of original essays, a sequel to two previous ones by the volume's editors, explores existential thinking in sociology after the advent of postmodernism. It focuses on key themes in this research arena through grounded examination of everyday situations and includes the work of Altheide, Clark, Fontana, Lyman and other leading figures in this area of sociology. It will be useful to scholars and for courses on symbolic interactionism, social theory, sociology of the emotions, sociology of culture, and sociology of everyday life.
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Joseph A. Kotarba is professor of sociology at University of Houston. John M. Johnson is professor in the School of Justice at Arizona State University. Each has coedited a previous well-known volume on existential sociology: Kotarba (with Andrea Fontana) The Existential Self in Society (1984) and Johnson (with Jack Douglas) Existential Sociology (1977).Review:
Address[es] topics ranging from rock music to race . . . the material contained in this volume is theoretically informed, sophisticated, and innovative. . . . Anyone who is interested in how sociologists who have been inspired by postmodernism pursue their work should consult this text. (John Murphy, University of Miami American Journal of Sociology)
Postmodern Existentialism represents a major theoretical intervention for the new millennium. Existential sociology emerged in the 1970s, and was as relevant then as it is today. This philosophical brand of interpretive sociology privileges the socially constructed reflexive, embodied, emotional nature of daily life. Existence precedes essence, for the world is not rational, and daily life often seems absurd, random, out of control. Postmodern existentialism affirms these features of our world, and rejects any master narrative that might impose order and meaning on our lives. This new collection requires careful study by all serious students of postmodern life. (Norman K. Denzin, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
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