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Avoiding Politics

Avoiding Politics
How Americans Produce Apathy in Everyday Life


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Part of Cambridge Cultural Social Studies

  • Date Published: September 1998
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521587594

£ 24.99

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About the Authors
  • Nina Eliasoph's vivid portrait of American civic life reveals an intriguing culture of political avoidance. Despite the importance for democracy of open-ended political conversation among ordinary citizens, many Americans try hard to avoid appearing to care about politics. To discover how, where and why Americans create this culture of avoidance, the author accompanied suburban volunteers, activists, and recreation club members for over two years, listening to them talk - and avoid talking - about the wider world, together and in encounters with government, media, and corporate authorities. She shows how citizens create and express ideas in everyday life, contrasting their privately expressed convictions with their lack of public political engagement. Her book challenges received ideas about culture, power and democracy, while exposing the hard work of producing apathy.

    • Vivid portraits of ordinary citizens in everyday interaction, showing how lay political ideas are created and communicated
    • Examines how much-touted ideas of 'civil society' and 'the public sphere' actually work or don't work in practice
    • Clear discussion of qualitative methods, making it especially suitable for advanced graduate course usage
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    • Winner of the 1999 Association for Humanist Sociology Book Award

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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 1998
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521587594
    • length: 344 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.51kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The mysterious shrinking circle of concern
    2. Volunteers trying to make sense of the world
    3. 'Close to home' and 'for the children': trying really hard not to care
    4. Humour, nostalgia and commercial culture in the postmodern public sphere
    5. Creating ignorance and memorizing facts: how Buffaloes understood politics
    6. Strenuous disengagement and cynical chic solidarity
    7. Activists carving out a place in the public sphere for discussion
    8. Newspapers in the cycle of political evaporation
    9. The evaporation of politics in the US public sphere

  • Author

    Nina Eliasoph, University of Southern California


    • Winner of the 1999 Association for Humanist Sociology Book Award

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