The Meanings Of Marital Equality (Suny Series in the Philosophy of the Social Sciences)

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9780791466223: The Meanings Of Marital Equality (Suny Series in the Philosophy of the Social Sciences)

An ethnographic study of marital equality.

Scott R. Harris develops an interactionist, interpretive approach to studying equality in social life by synthesizing the theoretical perspectives of four founding figures in interactionist, social constructivist thought Herbert Blumer, Alfred Schutz, Harold Garfinkel, and John Dewey. He focuses on equality in marriage by examining the stories people tell about their equal and unequal marriages, and compares those tales to what researchers have had to say on the subject. Challenging conventional understandings of equality, Harris demonstrates that social scientists in general tend to impose interpretations of inequality onto their respondents’ lives, rather than respecting and studying the meanings that people live by.

“Harris’s unique approach moves well beyond the standard and, in my view, very tired thinking about what it means to have an equal (or unequal) marriage. If anything is central to the study of marriage and family, it’s the question of marital equality. Every scholar and graduate student working in this area will need to have this book, and even those who disagree with the approach will need to read what Harris offers in order to properly come to terms with it from their varied points of view.” Jaber F. Gubrium, coeditor of Qualitative Research Practice

“Harris does an excellent job clarifying the differences between objectivist and constructionist perspectives. The issues he discusses are vital for any social scientific field. In some subfields, such as social problems research, the constructionist perspective is well established. In the family field there has been some discussion but no sustained presentation of how a constructionist perspective would offer an alternative way of understanding family life Harris’s book makes a real contribution here.” Stan J. Knapp, Brigham Young University

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From the Back Cover:

Scott R. Harris develops an interactionist, interpretive approach to studying equality in social life by synthesizing the theoretical perspectives of four founding figures in interactionist, social constructivist thought—Herbert Blumer, Alfred Schutz, Harold Garfinkel, and John Dewey. He focuses on equality in marriage by examining the stories people tell about their equal and unequal marriages, and compares those tales to what researchers have had to say on the subject. Challenging conventional understandings of equality, Harris demonstrates that social scientists in general tend to impose interpretations of inequality onto their respondents’ lives, rather than respecting and studying the meanings that people live by.

"Harris’s unique approach moves well beyond the standard and, in my view, very tired thinking about what it means to have an equal (or unequal) marriage. If anything is central to the study of marriage and family, it’s the question of marital equality. Every scholar and graduate student working in this area will need to have this book, and even those who disagree with the approach will need to read what Harris offers in order to properly come to terms with it from their varied points of view." — Jaber F. Gubrium, coeditor of Qualitative Research Practice

"Harris does an excellent job clarifying the differences between objectivist and constructionist perspectives. The issues he discusses are vital for any social scientific field. In some subfields, such as social problems research, the constructionist perspective is well established. In the family field there has been some discussion but no sustained presentation of how a constructionist perspective would offer an alternative way of understanding family life—Harris’s book makes a real contribution here." — Stan J. Knapp, Brigham Young University

About the Author:

Scott R. Harris is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Saint Louis University.

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