Get Misery and company : sympathy in everyday life PDF

By Candace Clark

In one of those social travel of sympathy, Candace Clark unearths that the emotional event we name sympathy has a historical past, good judgment, and lifetime of its personal. even though sympathy could appear to be a ordinary, reflexive response, individuals are no longer born figuring out while, for whom, and in what conditions sympathy is acceptable. relatively, they study problematic, hugely particular rules—different principles for males than for women—that consultant while to believe or show sympathy, while to assert it, and the way to simply accept it. utilizing large interviews, cultural artifacts, and "intensive eavesdropping" in public areas, similar to hospitals and funeral parlors, in addition to interpreting charity appeals, blues lyrics, greeting playing cards, novels, and media stories, Clark indicates that we study culturally prescribed ideas that govern our expression of sympathy.

"Clark's . . . study tools [are] creative and her glimpses of U.S. lifestyles revealing. . . . and you've got to like a social scientist so respectful of pass over Manners."—Clifford Orwin, Toronto Globe and Mail

"Clark bargains a thought-provoking and relatively fascinating etiquette of sympathy in line with which we should act as a way to protect the sympathy credit we will be able to name on in time of need."—Virginia Quarterly Review

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Sample text

It is equally important to be aware that giving sympathy and getting sympathy have consequences for our everyday encounters, relationships, and the webs of social bonds that make up society. Giving or not giving sympathy, and receiving or not receiving it, can change the course of interactions and relationships. Sympathy contributes to the social order by connecting the unfortunate to the fortunate, by offering temporary breaks from coping with life’s difficulties, and by creating a wider circle for commentary and debate on issues of justice and morality.

Although it includes historical materials, it does not start at one point in time and move forward in linear fashion. Instead, the book is a journey, and I am the tour guide. The terrain is but sketchily mapped. To explore the sympathetic aspect of human experience, we must travel on roads made of data I have collected from the mass media, greeting cards, interview and survey responses, freewritings, and observations of everyday interaction. Unfortunately, we cannot travel all the roads at once.

Chapter 2 will take us down a microsocia1 road to look at the processes involved in sympathy giving. Chapters 3 and 4 take us to higher elevations, where we can view macrosocial issues. Beginning with chapter 5 , I will direct the journey off the main highways and slow the pace so we can turn our gaze onto the sympathizee. And in subsequent chapters, I will point to the interrelations of the sympathizer and sympathizee. More specifically, chapter 2 sets forth the three important stages in the sympathizing process: empathy, sentiment, and display.

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