Jan 19, 2015

The Passage from Youth to Adulthood: Narrative and Cultural Thresholds

The Passage from Youth to Adulthood explores a society unanchored from culturally endorsed rites of passage, in which young people and adults appear to build their identities within a culture of dependency. Pierluca Birindelli interviewed Italian young adults still living with their parents, focusing on their relations with the bedroom and the objects in it. He then analyzed self-narrations and longer autobiographies written by university students, measuring his impressions against sociological, psychological, and anthropological literature. Exploring the paradigm of what he calls “intergenerational collusion,” Birindelli finds fathers failing to act as adults with the tacit complicity of their sons: both are playing to the same script, heedless of the common good, the other, and the future. Finally, integrating the experience of young Americans abroad sparks transcultural reflections about the concept of play and the authenticity of social performance.

“Pierluca Birindelli has written a theoretically ambitious study on a very fascinating subject: Italian young people who stay at home until thirty and longer. Birindelli tells us what these young adults think and how they see their lives. In doing this he develops new interesting concepts and presents an approach which combines different methods to reveal the deep roots of the phenomenon and the effects it has on the young Italians. We literally enter their rooms and their playful existence—both concretely and theoretically. The book ends in a theory of the Big Game, which opens the way to understand this Italian specificity. This is a groundbreaking book, which will make waves far outside Italy.”
― J.P. Roos, professor emeritus of sociology, University of Helsinki, former president of the European Sociological Association
 “The young are the future. This book, which is a book for young people and for adults, leads us with felicitous sociological imagination into the world to come with its shadows and its lights.”
― Gianfranco Bettin Lattes, professor of sociology, University of Florence
 The Passage from Youth to Adulthood is all about truth, is based on our true stories, true lives. This book is salt on the wounds of a disoriented and fragile generation, scared to face a world that has become way more difficult than their parents’. Pierluca succeeds in being ironic and passionate at the same time in this original work.”
― Daniele Brunori, now a wine merchant in Guangzhou, China

Pierluca Birindelli is a docent in sociology at the University of Helsinki and teaches at Gonzaga University and the International Studies Institute in Florence. Birindelli has published two books in Italian on the passage from youth to adulthood, a monograph about self-identity in late modernity, and articles addressing the themes of individual and collective identity.
Birindelli, Pierluca. 2014. The Passage from Youth to Adulthood: Narrative and Cultural Thresholds. Lenham, MA: University Press of America (Rowman & Littlefield Group).

You can read a preview at Google Books and purchase it (Paperback and E-Book) at Amazon and Google Play

Jan 5, 2015

Sociology of Italian Culture, Fall 2014

Abbotts Kieran, Corbett William, Couron Claire, Finnerty Megan, Fuller Mackenzie, Laufer Emma, Marr Sarah, Miram Monica, Petersen Caitlyn, Robinson William, Sansone Kristen, Sarbaugh Mary, Small Julianna, Thomas Lara, Weed Kenet, Young Sarah.

Oct 2, 2014

Émile Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of Religious Life

[The] stimulating action of society is not felt in exceptional circumstances alone. There is virtually no instant of our lives in which a certain rush of energy fails to come to us from outside ourselves. In all kinds of acts that express the understanding, esteem, and affection of his neighbor, there is a lift that the man who does his duty feels, usually without being aware of it. But that lift sustains him; the feeling society has for him uplifts the feeling he has for himself. Because he is in moral harmony with his neighbor, he gains new confidence, courage, and boldness in action – quite like the man of faith who believes he feels the eyes of his god turned benevolently toward him. Thus is produced what amounts to a perpetual uplift of our moral being. (Durkheim [1912] 1995: 213)

You can read online the following edition of The Elementary Forms at Project Gutenberg: Durkheim, Émile. (1912) 1915. The Elementary Forms of Religious Life. Translated by Joseph Ward Swain.  London: Allen & Unwin.
However, two other translations are strongly suggested:

Why we need to read and interpret (again) Durkheim? Because here we can find the gist of the sociological discourse, as Jeffrey Alexander incipit states…

On one thing most of Durkheim’s readers, past and present, have always agreed: he, like Marx, emphasizes social structure. Durkheim helped to create classical sociology because he located social forces “outside” the individual actor. But from this point on, theoretical agreement ends. The problem for Durkheim and his interpreters, just as for Marx and his interlocutors, is what does structure mean? How does structure hold individuals within its limits? Of what are these limits composed? If structure exists, somehow, outside of
the individual, can it act only in opposition to freedom?
The problematics of Durkheim interpretation, then, are precisely the ones around which Marxist inquiry has always revolved. The fundamental question has been how Durkheim stipulates the relation between structured and free action. People keep reading Durkheim, and arguing about him, to find out whether the determinateness of social structures must involve the sacrifice of autonomy and, conversely, whether insisting on human agency entails denying external control. How generations have understood Durkheim – and answered these theoretical questions through such interpretive understanding – has fundamentally shaped the pattern of sociological discourse. Debates over the meaning and path of Durkheim’s work are, inevitably, arguments about the most basic directions of sociological explanation and more general social thought.
Is there a fundamental conflict between Durkheimian and more materialist forms of sociology, whether Marxist, Weberian, organizational, or behaviorist? Many have contended there is not, and they have found not only occasional passages but large sections of Durkheim’s work to prove it. The present essay will engage in a meticulous reconstruction of Durkheim’s theoretical development, from his earliest writings to his maturity. This hermeneutic effort will demonstrate that these interpreters are mistaken. We will see that Durkheim reached his theoretical maturity after a prolonged, if confused, flirtation with materialist forms of structural theory, and eventually a fierce struggle against them.
- Alexander, Jeffrey C. 2005. "The inner development of Durkheim’s sociological theory: From early writings to maturity." The Cambridge Companion to Durkheim: 136-59.

Whoever wants to have a comprehensive and meticulous understanding of Durkheim’s thought should read the whole book:
Contributors: Jeffrey C. Alexander, Philip Smith, Marcel Fournier, Philippe Besnard, Robert Alun Jones, Randall Collins, Karen E. Fields, Robert N. Bellah, Chris Shilling, Roger Friedland, Alexander Riley, Edward Tiryakian, David B. Grusky, Gabriela Galescu, Zygmunt Baumann, Mark Cladis.
You can read and download for free the introduction to the book:
- Alexander, Jeffrey C. and Philip Smith. "Introduction: The New Durkheim": 1-37.
And here you can find two more free articles by Jeffrey Alexander…
- Alexander, Jeffrey C. 1986. "Rethinking Durkheim's Intellectual Development I: On 'Marxism'and the Anxiety of Being Misunderstood." International Sociology 1(1): 91-107.
- Alexander, Jeffrey C. 1986. “Rethinking Durkheim's Intellectual Development II: Workingout a Religious Sociology.” International Sociology, 1(2): 189-201.

Selected works by Durkheim
-      Division of Labor in Society. Translated by George Simpson. New York: Free Press, 1964 [1933].
-      Division of Labor in Society. Translated by W. D. Halls. Introduction by Lewis A. Coser. New York: Free Press, 1984.
-      Durkheim and the Law. Edited by Steven Lukes and Andrew Scull. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1983.
-      Durkheim on Politics and the State. Edited and with an introduction by Anthony Giddens. Translated by W. D. Halls. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1986.
-      Durkheim on Religion: A Selection of Readings with Bibliographies. Edited by W. S. F. Pickering. Translated by Jacqueline Redding and W. S. F. Pickering. Boston, MA: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1975.
-      Durkheim: Essays on Morals and Education. Edited and with introductions by W. S. F. Pickering. Translated by H. I. Sutcliffe. Boston, MA: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1979.
-      Durkheim’s Philosophy Lectures. Edited by Neil Gross. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
-      Education and Sociology. Translated and with an introduction by Sherwood D. Fox. Foreword by Talcott Parsons. Glencoe, IL: Free Press, 1956.
-      Émile Durkheim on Morality and Society: Selected Writings. Edited and with an introduction by Robert N. Bellah. Chicago: University of Chicago Press,1973.
-      Émile Durkheim: Contributions to L’Anne´e sociologique. Edited by Yash Nandan. New York: Free Press, 1980.
-      Émile Durkheim: Selected Writings. Edited, translated, and with an introduction by Anthony Giddens. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1972.
-      Ethics and the Sociology of Morals. Translated and with an introduction by Robert T. Hall. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1993.
-      Evolution of Educational Thought: Lectures on the Formation and Development of Secondary Education in France. Translated by Peter Collins. Boston, MA: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1977.
-      Incest: The Nature and Origin of the Taboo. Translated and with an introduction by Edward Sagarin. Together with “The Origins and the Development of the Incest Taboo” by Albert Ellis. New York: L. Stuart, 1963.
-      Montesquieu and Rousseau: Forerunners of Sociology. Foreword by Henri Peyre. With “Durkheim, Montesquieu, and Rousseau,” by Georges Davy and “Note,” by A. Cuvillier. Translated by Ralph Manheim. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1960.
-      Moral Education: A Study in the Theory and Application of the Sociology of Education. Foreword by Paul Fauconnet. Translated by Everett K.Wilson and Herman Schnurer. Edited and with a new introduction by Everett K. Wilson. New York: Free Press, [1961] 1973.
-      Pragmatism and Sociology. Translated by J. C. Whitehouse. Edited and with an introduction by John B. Allcock and a preface by A. Cuvillier. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1983.
-      Primitive Classification (with Marcel Mauss). Translated and edited with an introduction by Rodney Needham. London: Cohen and West, 1963.
-      Professional Ethics and Civic Morals. Translated by Cornelia Brookfield. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1957.
-      The Radical Sociology of Durkheim and Mauss. Edited by Mike Gane. London: Routledge, 1992.
-      Readings from Émile Durkheim. Edited by Kenneth Thompson with new translations by Margaret A. Thompson. New York: Tavistock Publications, 1985.
-      Rules of Sociological Method and Selected Texts on Sociology and its Method. Edited and with an introduction by Steven Lukes. Translated by W. D. Halls. London: Macmillan Press, 1982.
-      Rules of Sociological Method. New York: Free Press, 1966.
-      Socialism and Saint-Simon. Edited and with an introduction by Alvin W. Gouldner. Translated by Charlotte Sattler from the version originally edited by Marcel Mauss. Yellow Springs, OH: Antioch Press, 1958.
-      Sociology and Philosophy. Translated by D. F. Pocock and with an introduction by J. G. Peristiany. Glencoe, IL: Free Press, 1953.
-      Suicide: A Study in Sociology. Translated by John A. Spaulding and George Simpson. Edited and with an introduction by George Simpson. New York: Free Press, [1951] 1966.
-      Textes. Vol. 1, Eléments d’une théorie sociale. Edited byVictorKarady. Paris: Editions de Minuit [1889] 1975.
-      Textes. Vol. 2, Religion, morale, anomie. Paris: Éditions de Minuit, 1975.