A folklorist and ethnographer who has written about the Southern
Appalachians, African American communities in the United States,
and the West Indies, Roger D. Abrahams goes up against the
triviality barrier. Here he takes on the systematics of his own
culture. He traces forms of mundane experience and the substrate of
mutual understandings carried around as part of our own cultural
longings and belongings.
Everyday Life explores the entire range of social
gatherings, from chance encounters and casual conversations to
well-rehearsed performances in theaters and stadiums. Abrahams ties
the everyday to those more intense experiences of playful
celebration and serious power displays and shows how these
seemingly disparate entities are cut from the same cloth of human
Abrahams explores the core components of everyday-ness, including
aspects of sociability and goodwill, from jokes and stories to
elaborate networks of organization, both formal and informal, in
the workplace. He analyzes how the past enters our present through
common experiences and attitudes, through our shared practices and
their underlying values.
Everyday Life begins with the vernacular terms for "old
talk" and offers an overview of the range of practices thought of
as customary or traditional. Chapters are concerned directly with
the terms for intense experiences, mostly forms of play and
celebration but extending to riots and other forms of social and
political resistance. Finally Abrahams addresses key terms that
have recently come front and center in sociological discussions of
culture in a global perspective, such as identity, ethnicity,
creolization, and diaspora, thus taking on academic jargon words as
they are introduced into vernacular discussions.
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