Misery and Company: Sympathy in Everyday Life

Front Cover
University of Chicago Press, Dec 1, 2007 - Social Science - 323 pages
In a kind of social tour of sympathy, Candace Clark reveals that the emotional experience we call sympathy has a history, logic, and life of its own. Although sympathy may seem to be a natural, reflexive reaction, people are not born knowing when, for whom, and in what circumstances sympathy is appropriate. Rather, they learn elaborate, highly specific rules—different rules for men than for women—that guide when to feel or display sympathy, when to claim it, and how to accept it. Using extensive interviews, cultural artifacts, and "intensive eavesdropping" in public places, such as hospitals and funeral parlors, as well as analyzing charity appeals, blues lyrics, greeting cards, novels, and media reports, Clark shows that we learn culturally prescribed rules that govern our expression of sympathy.

"Clark's . . . research methods [are] inventive and her glimpses of U.S. life revealing. . . . And you have to love a social scientist so respectful of Miss Manners."—Clifford Orwin, Toronto Globe and Mail

"Clark offers a thought-provoking and quite interesting etiquette of sympathy according to which we ought to act in order to preserve the sympathy credits we can call on in time of need."—Virginia Quarterly Review

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Contents

Sympathy in Everyday Life 1 The Social Character of Sympathy
2
Sympathy in Everyday Life 2 Sympathy Giving Forms and Process
26
Sympathy in Everyday Life 3 Framing Events as Bad Luck Sympathy Entrepreneurs and the Grounds for Sympathy
80
Sympathy in Everyday Life 4 The Socioemotional Economy Social Value and Sympathy Margin
128
Sympathy in Everyday Life 5 Sympathy Biography and the Rules of Sympathy Etiquette
158
Sympathy in Everyday Life 6 Interpreting Deviance The Sympathetic Response
194
Sympathy in Everyday Life 7 Sympathy Microhierarchy and Micropolitics
226
Sympathy in Everyday Life 8 Epilogue
252
Sympathy in Everyday Life Appendix Research Strategies
261
Sympathy in Everyday Life References
281
Sympathy in Everyday Life Name Index
299
Sympathy in Everyday Life Subject Index
304
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