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D.Literature (Honoris Causa) Brandon University
While my research transcends a wide variety of terrains, I have very much worked out of the Chicago School of symbolic interaction. In addition to benefiting immensely from the theoretical foundations, empirical research, and community of scholars associated with this tradition, I’ve been fortunate in having had opportunities to embark on several ethnographic studies as well as having interests in developing more theoretically oriented materials that deal with issues related to human knowing and acting.
Thus, in addition to studying the activities and life-worlds of the clergy, parole officers, card and dice hustlers, the people who constitute the hotel community, salespeople and consumers, magicians, and economic development officers, I have given considerable attention to the development of a series of “generic social processes” that allow researchers and scholars to transcend and develop comparative analysis of human group life across all manners of situations. This has meant examining such things as people becoming involved in situations, acquiring perspectives or worldviews, developing identities and reputations, doing activity (as in managing impressions, experiencing influence work, making commitments), generating and sustaining relationships, achieving linguistic fluencies, experiencing emotionality, and developing and coordinating associations.
Because interactionist theory, methods, and research consistently focus on human group life in the making, it has been fairly easy to move back and forth between field research, ethnohistorical materials, and more sustained theoretical matters. Thus, since 1998, I have been involved in the study of the developmental flows and disjunctures of development of pragmatist social thought from the classical Greeks (circa 700-300BCE) to the present time. While this has meant following developments in rhetoric, religious studies, poetics, philosophy, education, and friendship over that time, the more pervasive question has been one of asking what we might learn about human knowing and acting in more sustained transcontextual and transhistorical terms.
As well (and as part of the broader “Greek project”), over the past few years I have been developing a text (tentatively entitled) Emile Durkheim’s Pragmatist Sociology and Philosophy of Knowing. Although Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) is best known as a structuralist, a functionalist, and often is referenced as a positivist, this statement focuses on the highly consequential but much neglected "pragmatist sociology" that Durkheim addresses most notably in the latter stages (1902-1914) of his career. In developing this material, Durkheim provides a particularly valuable historical-developmental dimension to pragmatist social thought along with a pronounced emphasis on the collectively achieved nature of human knowing and acting. Durkheim does not explicitly denounce the 1890s texts for which he is best known but adopts a theoretical viewpoint that is notably consistent with that of GH Mead and Herbert Blumer. Durkheim also insists that the principal methods of sociology are history and ethnography, accompanied by sustained comparative analysis.
2013 “Love, Despair, and Resiliency: Ovid’s Contributions to an Interactionist Analysis of Intimate Relations.” Qualitative Sociology Review 9 (3):124-151.
2013 “Representing, Defending, and Questioning Religion: Pragmatist Sociological Motifs in Plato’s Timaeus, Phaedo, Republic, and Laws.” Qualitative Sociology Review 9 (1):8-42.
At present, I am working on a series of projects. These include: