Misery and Company: Sympathy in Everyday Life

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

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