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Avoiding Politics: How Americans Produce Apathy in Everyday Life
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Avoiding Politics: How Americans Produce Apathy in Everyday Life

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  30 ratings  ·  6 reviews
Nina Eliasoph's vivid portrait of American civic life reveals an intriguing culture of political avoidance. Open-ended political conversation among ordinary citizens is said to be the fount of democracy, but 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 s ...more
Paperback, 344 pages
Published August 13th 1998 by Cambridge University Press
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Depressing and funny, this sociological exploration of "the evaporation of politics from the public sphere" is a biting look into how Americans explain and engage with each other on political topics (and how they mostly do not). Through observation, participation, and interviews Eliasoph presents individual and group interactions in community volunteer groups, country western dance bars, and local activist groups, and shows how ideas and expectations of "self-interest" in particular stop public ...more
I found this book from a keywords search while looking for resources for an english paper. In thumbing through it to find passages relevant to my paper, I kept getting distracted by interesting but irrelevant passages (which was bad, since I was on a deadline).
Though I didn't read it in it's entirety, I got enough of it to know it's an excellent book. A really neat study in how Americans react and respond to politics. There are lots of fascinating (and humorous) personal interviews and conversat
Ben O'loughlin
Acute analysis of why the US public sphere is the way it is, through years of fieldwork and listening to daily conversations, attending volunteer groups, activist groups and country-western clubs in a small coastal community. A bit stretched in length - most of the key points are within the first few chapters. Also evaluates the discussions she listens to in terms of her own ideal of public speech (as Michael Warner has critiqued). But an extremely vivid portrayal of political unhappiness and fr ...more
This book provides a nice weaving together of traditional sociological thought (for instance drawing from Durkheim, to Goffman, and many others) and ethnographic data on political engagement and disengagement. Eliasoph's point about the production of apathy in everyday politics is multifaceted and provides a window for better understanding what tends to come across as a disconnect between Democracy and dwindling civic engagement and a thin public sphere.
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