Essaying the Personal: Making Sociological Stories Stick

Kleinman, Sherryl
December 1997
Qualitative Sociology;Dec1997, Vol. 20 Issue 4, p553
Academic Journal
In this article, the author talks about her experience in the field of sociology. When she started college in 1970 she thought she would become a psychologist. She was, after all, interested in how people thought and felt about things. She learned that talking to people about things that interested her was called "research" and she could get course credit for doing it. For instance, she thought she was the only woman missing out on the sexual revolution, so she did interviews with female undergraduates on "premarital sex." The author talks about the best way to communicate sociological analyses to those outside sociology circle. Storytelling, whether in fiction or nonfiction, is a time-tested way to get readers to care. As she has learned in teaching courses in race, class, and gender, writings that "show" more than "tell" a story of interaction, inequality, and power get students to listen and then to understand that life is more than a drama of personalities. In the author's experience, field work is done best when one knows who he is and what he feels throughout the research.


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