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David Beer and Ruth Penfold-Mounce
Sociological Research Online 14 (2) 2
Keywords: Celebrity, Celebrity Gossip, Respectability, Miley Cyrus, Grammar of Conduct, Melodramatic Imagination
Abstract: This article uses a range of media sources to 'follow' or 'trace' the well-known celebrity Miley Cyrus. Through the development of the concept of a new melodramatic imagination the case study develops the methodological potentials of the types of online archives that now exist. In this instance the authors exercise their own melodramatic imaginations to draw out substantive issues relevant to the case of Miley Cyrus. The article therefore has two aims, the first is the exploration of a particular approach toward understanding transformations in popular culture, and the second is to draw out the types of 'grammar of conduct' that face those who assemble the information about celebrities into consumable narratives. The piece considers how people, in what has been called the Web 2.0 context, assemble melodramatic narratives amongst celebrity gossip that might then shape everyday experiences, understandings and practices.
Sociological Research Online 14 (5) 1
Keywords: Baroque, Body, Cancer, Celebrity, Death, Dying, Media, Reality Television, Sequestration, Social Class
Abstract: The article analyses the scale of, and reactions to, print media coverage of the dying from cancer in 2009 of young British media celebrity Jade Goody. Some sociologists have argued that death is sequestrated, with the dying body particularly hidden and problematic; hence the sociological significance of the intense and high profile coverage of Jade's final weeks. In particular, the baroque emotionality of press photos, especially those which glamorised her baldness (the result of failed chemotherapy), challenges the sequestration thesis. Reactions were complex, with criticism of her public dying mixed with criticism of reality television in general, together with class prejudice. New media's blurring of public and private creates new arenas for publicising the bodily, personal and emotional experience of dying, while at the same time affirming the public/private boundary so that the ordinary dying of ordinary people remains substantially hidden.
Heather Piper and Dean Garratt
Sociological Research Online 18 (2) 20
Keywords: Olympic Legacy, Foucault, Discourse, Risk Society, Spectacle, Celebrity, Moral Panic
Abstract: Focussing on the London 2012 legacy claim relating to increased activity levels and sports participation, the paper discusses a range of factors which appear to militate against its achievement. Utilising a Foucauldian theoretical framework, we discuss how some of these operate at the conceptual and linguistic level, while others relate to governmental processes, and still another to the distinction between active engagement with the Games as carnival/festival and passive consumption as spectacle. Closest attention is paid to the negative effects on mass participation of a mind-set and collateral social practices, amplified in sport, which prioritise the avoidance of all risk, and particularly the risk of abuse. Drawing on data from a recent ESRC-funded research project, we demonstrate how this has resulted in a culture of fear and corrosive mistrust, which can only reduce grassroots willingness to take up sports, and the effectiveness and commitment of the coaches required to support it. The social and governable context of discourse is considered, and Foucault’s conceptual ‘toolbox’ is deployed, to encapsulate the interrelationship of risk society, moral panic, and governmentality.
Anna Fohrbeck, Andreas Hirseland and Philipp Ramos Lobato
Sociological Research Online 19 (4) 9
Keywords: Benefits Recipients, Welfare Reform, Hartz IV, Stigma, Respectability, Media
Abstract: Dominant cultural representations of ‘the typical benefits recipient’ – notably in reality television and the tabloids – have been marked by an increasing focus on the character and alleged moral defects of individuals. Drawing on interviews from a large-scale German qualitative longitudinal study, this article explores how benefits recipients respond to such negative media images. Our analysis of interviewees’ ‘identity work’ finds that they have internalised and replicate negative public discourses to a surprising extent. The figure of the ‘typical’ benefits recipient constructed in the media emerges as both a threat to recipients’ self-identities, and as a central reference point in the strategies through which they attempt to defend their respectability. The article concludes with some thoughts on the relationship between such negative representations and the political legitimacy of welfare reform.
Kim Allen, Laura Harvey and Heather Mendick
Sociological Research Online 20 (3) 12
Keywords: Affect, Celebrity, Youth, Masculinity, Sexuality, Gender
Abstract: In this article, we explore the ways that contemporary young masculinities are performed and regulated through young people’s relationship with celebrity. We address the relative paucity of work on young men’s engagements with popular culture. Drawing on qualitative data from group interviews with 148 young people (aged 14-17) in England, we identify ‘celebrity talk’ as a site in which gender identities are governed, negotiated and resisted. Specifically we argue that celebrity as a space of imagination can bring to the study of masculinities a focus on their affective and collective mobilisation. Unpicking young men’s and women’s talk about Canadian pop star Justin Bieber and British boyband One Direction, we show how disgust and humour operate as discursive-affective practices which open up and close down certain meanings and identities. We conclude that while there have been shifts in the ways that masculinities are performed and regulated, hierarchies of masculinities anchored through hegemonic masculinity remain significant.
Elias le Grand
Sociological Research Online 20 (4) 15
Keywords: Class, Identity, Moralisation, Moral Panic, Respectability, Ressentiment
Abstract: This paper aims to link two fields of research which have come to form separate lines of inquiry: the sociology of moralisation and studies on class identity. Expanding on recent papers by Young (2009, 2011) and others, the paper argues that the concepts of ressentiment and respectability can be used to connect moralisation processes and the formation of class identities. This is explored through a case study of the social reaction in Britain to white working-class youths labelled ‘chavs’. It is demonstrated that chavs are constructed through moralising discourses and practices, which have some elements of a moral panic. Moreover, moralisation is performative in constructing class identities: chavs have been cast as a ‘non-respectable’ white working-class ‘folk devil’ against whom ‘respectable’ middle-class and working-class people distinguish and identify themselves as morally righteous. Moralising social reactions are here to an important extent triggered by feelings of ressentiment. This is a dialectical process where respectability and ressentiment are tied, not only to the social control of certain non-respectable working-class others, but also to the moral self-governance of the moralisers.
Kinneret Lahad and Vanessa May
Sociological Research Online 22 (2) 12
Keywords: Belonging, Participation Unit,, Solo Dining, Time, Time, Gendered Respectability
Abstract: In recent years, various lifestyle websites have offered tips on eating out alone as well as lists of the best restaurants for solo dining in major cities of the world. Utilising the theoretical concepts of participation units, territories of the self (Goffman, 1972) and belonging (Author B, 2011, 2013), this paper explores the challenges that spatio-temporal conventions pose for women solo diners in particular. Through the lens of solo dining, we explore being alone and belonging in shared public spaces, and the gendered nature of aloneness and respectability. The paper contributes to existing theory by examining the influence that time has on a woman solo diner’s ‘single’ participation unit, her ability to lay claim to public space and her relationship with the surrounding social environment. The paper concludes by exploring what the new trend of solo dining can offer and the consequences this has for how sociologists conceputalise sociality in public spaces.