Avoiding Politics: How Americans Produce Apathy in Everyday Life
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 suburban volunteers, activists, and recreation club members for two and a half years, listening to them talk - and avoid talking - about the wider world, both within their groups and in their encounters with government, the media, and corporate authorities. This is a unique book which challenges received ideas about culture, power, and democracy, while exposing the hard work of producing apathy. Its clear exposition of the qualitative methods used also makes it exceptionally useful for students of political and cultural sociology, communications, and politics.
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The mysterious shrinking circle of concern
Volunteers trying to make sense of the world
The institutional setting for volunteering the Caring Adult Network
Close to home and for the children trying really hard not to care
Humor nostalgia and commercial culture in the postmodern public sphere
Rituals of consumption
Creating ignorance and memorizing facts how Buffaloes understood politics
Strenuous disengagement and cynical chic solidarity
Activists carving out a place in the public sphere for discussion
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active activists Amargo Americans anti-drugs asked assumed avoid backstage battleships beliefs Betsy Buffalo Club CESE citizens citizenship civic close to home concern corporate country music country-western clubs create culture cynical dance debate democracy discourse discussion drugs environmental etiquette Evergreen County everyday example fact feel frontstage gonna grassroots Greenpeace group context HANK homeless ideas ignorance imagine incinerator institutions interaction interview involved issues Jody jokes kids kind laughed Maryellen mean meetings Nazi skinheads Neil never NINA nuclear nuclear war officials opinions organizations Pacific City participation pink-collar workers Plastico political conversation political evaporation powerless problems protesters public sphere public-spirited publicly minded question racist raffle reporters rituals self-interest sense silence Silverado social service sociological imagination someone speech story Swift River talk there's thing thought told toxic waste tried trying volunteer groups wanted wider world workers worried