Heroic Efforts: The Emotional Culture of Search and Rescue Volunteers

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NYU Press, 2003 - Social Science - 233 pages
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Winner of the 2006 Outstanding Recent Contribution Award from the American Sociological Association, Sociology of Emotions Section

Many search and rescue workers voluntarily interrupt their lives when they are called upon to help strangers. They awake in the middle of the night to cover miles of terrain in search of lost hikers or leave work to search potential avalanche zones for missing skiers, snowboarders, and snowmobilers in blizzard conditions. They often put their own lives in danger to rescue stranded, hypothermic kayakers and rafters from rivers.

Drawing on six years of participant observation and in-depth interviews, Jennifer Lois examines the emotional subculture of “Peak,” a volunteer mountain-environment search and rescue team. Rescuers were not only confronted by physical dangers, but also by emotional challenges, including both keeping their own emotions in check during crisis situations, and managing the emotions of others, such as those they were rescuing. Lois examines how rescuers constructed meaning in their lives and defined themselves through their heroic work.

Heroic Efforts serves as an easy to understand sociological introduction to the ways emotions develop and connect us to our surroundings, as well as to the links between the concept of heroism and other sociological theories such as those on gender stereotypes and edgework.

  

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Contents

Acknowledgments
1
Studying Peak Search and Rescue
25
Joining Up
44
Socializing Heroes
64
Rescuers Emotions
85
Letters from Survivors and Families
144
The Emotional Rewards of Rescue Work
156
Heroic Efforts
172
Notes
197
References
215
Index
229
Copyright

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About the author (2003)

Jennifer Lois is Associate Professor of Sociology at Western Washington University.

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