In Personal Sociology: Finding Meanings in Everyday Life, Jeffrey E. Nash transforms everyday experiences into sociological insights and understandings. This book has three parts. Part One illustrates the intersection of meanings in selected settings from the author’s own life such as barbershop quartet singing, wrestling, and how a medical procedure changed his identity. Part Two deals with humor and its intersection with social identities. An analysis of two television sitcoms separated by thirty years reveals how racial identity reflects larger changes in society. Using an indirect approach to teaching sociology to a group of elderly learners, the intersections of gender, race, class, and age are explored and explained through sociological concepts and theories. Part Three explores embedded meanings in local social contexts involving social beliefs and activism. The book concludes by engaging in public sociology through editorial opinion writing.
Jeffrey E. Nash is professor emeritus at Missouri State University and former chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
Table of Contents
List of Figures and Tables
Introduction: Personal Sociology
Chapter One: Ringing the Chord: Sentimentality and Nostalgia Among Male Singers
Chapter Two: Wimps Need Not Apply: The Construction of Masculinity in Youth Wrestling
Chapter Three: Penile Implants: Embodying Medical Technology
Chapter Four: Framing Race in Two Acclaimed Television Comedy Series
Chapter Five: Laughter and Humor in the Classroom and Beyond
Chapter Six: Lives Worth Saving: The Moral Paradox of Life
Chapter Seven: A Coal Fired Plant is Born
Chapter Eight: Personal and Public Sociology
Personal Sociology is one of the most engaging books I’ve read. Nash takes the reader on a journey from the micro to the macro with fearless candor. From Baptisms to Army clerks, from penis implants to Barbershop singing and wrestling, we learn how the self is contextual, embodied, and necessarily tied to the social world. All this is accomplished with personal appeal. It reminds us as sociologists that there is empirical meaning in hovering close to the ground.
Personal Sociology is one of those books that hooks you after two paragraphs. This book is a gem, and no one who reads it will fail to be impressed by its deep intelligence, wide-ranging scholarship, and passionate humanitarianism. One of the strengths of this book is the parade of insights it affords. Professor Nash shows how endemic personal ambitions, desires, relationships, and conflicts are to any sociological project. His own life may be his but not his alone, and every sociologist will recognize similar patterns in their own sociological career.
I deeply enjoyed reading this insightful publication that uses creatively personal experiences to enter a grounded qualitative sociological analysis of the varied meanings attached to a diverse range of fundamental aspects of current social life, such as environmental activism, race, and masculinity.