Reviving classical attention to gathering times as sites of transformation and building on more recent microsociological work, this paper uses qualitative data to show how social occasions open up unexpected bursts of change in the lives of those attending. They do this by pulling people into a special realm apart from normal life, generating collective effervescence and emotional energy, bringing usually disparate people together, forcing public rankings, and requiring complex choreography, all of which combine to make occasions sites of inspiration and connection as well as sites of offense and violation. Rather than a time out from “real” life, social occasions hold an outsized potential to unexpectedly shift the course that real life takes. Implications for microsociology, social inequality, and the life course are considered.
That is from the excellent Alice Goffman. And “from the credits,” here is the really big news:
Alice Goffman is assistant professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin Madison and McConnell Visiting Assistant Professor at Pomona College. She is finishing a book titled Fateful: Where and When Life Changes Unexpectedly, with University of Chicago Press.
Via Kevin Lewis.