front cover of Becoming an Ex
Becoming an Ex
The Process of Role Exit
Helen Rose Fuchs Ebaugh
University of Chicago Press, 1988
The experience of becoming an ex is common to most people in modern society. Unlike individuals in earlier cultures who usually spent their entire lives in one marriage, one career, one religion, one geographic locality, people living in today's world tend to move in and out of many roles in the course of a lifetime. During the past decade there has been persistent interest in these "passages" or "turning points," but very little research has dealt with what it means to leave behind a major role or incorporate it into a new identity. Helen Rose Fuchs Ebaugh's pathbreaking inquiry into the phenomenon of becoming an ex reveals the profundity of this basic aspect of establishing an identity in contemporary life.

Ebaugh is herself an ex, having left the life of a Catholic nun to become a wife, mother, and professor of sociology. Drawing on interviews with 185 people, Ebaugh explores a wide range of role changes, including ex-convicts, ex-alcoholics, divorced people, mothers without custody of their children, ex-doctors, ex-cops, retirees, ex-nuns, and—perhaps most dramatically—transsexuals. As this diverse sample reveals, Ebaugh focuses on voluntary exits from significant roles. What emerges are common stages of the role exit process—from disillusionment with a particular identity, to searching for alternative roles, to turning points that trigger a final decision to exit, and finally to the creation of an identify as an ex.

Becoming an Ex is a challenging and influential study that will be of great interest to sociologists, mental health counselors, members of self-help groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Parents Without Partners, those in corporate settings where turnover has widespread implications for the organization, and for anyone struggling through a role exit who is trying to establish a new sense of self.

front cover of Navigating the Future
Navigating the Future
Social Identity, Coping, and Life Tasks
Geraldine Downey
Russell Sage Foundation, 2005
Psychologists now understand that identity is not fixed, but fluid and highly dependent on environment. In times of stress, conflict, or change, people often adapt by presenting themselves in different ways and emphasizing different social affiliations. With changing demographics creating more complex social groupings, it is important to understand the costs and benefits of the way social groups are categorized, and the way individuals understand, cope with, and employ their varied social identities. Navigating the Future, edited by Geraldine Downey, Jacquelynne Eccles, and Celina Chatman, answers that call with a wealth of empirical data and expert analysis. Navigating the Future focuses on the roles that social identities play in stressful, challenging, and transitional situations. Jason Lawrence, Jennifer Crocker, and Carol Dweck show how the prospect of being negatively stereotyped can affect the educational success of girls and African Americans, making them more cynical about school and less likely to seek help. The authors argue that these issues can be mitigated by challenging these students educationally, expressing optimism in their abilities, and emphasizing that intelligence is not fixed, but can be developed. The book also looks at the ways in which people employ social identity to their advantage. J. Nicole Shelton and her co-authors use extensive research on adolescents and college students to argue that individuals with strong, positive connections to their ethnic group exhibit greater well-being and are better able to cope with the negative impact of discrimination. Navigating the Future also discusses how the importance and value of social identity depends on context. LaRue Allen, Yael Bat-Chava, J. Lawrence Aber, and Edward Seidman find that the emotional benefit of racial pride for black adolescents is higher in predominantly black neighborhoods than in racially mixed environments. Because most people identify with more than one group, they must grapple with varied social identities, using them to make connections with others, overcome adversity, and understand themselves. Navigating the Future brings together leading researchers in social psychology to understand the complexities of identity in a diverse social world.

front cover of On The Man Question
On The Man Question
Gender and Civic Virtue in America
Mark E. Kann
Temple University Press, 1991

Focusing on Seventeenth-Century English political philosophy and Nineteenth-Century American culture, Mark Kann challenges the widely-held view that American political institutions are grounded in the primacy of individualism. Liberal thinkers have long been concerned that men are too passionate and selfish to exercise individual rights without causing social chaos. Kann demonstrates how a desperate search to answer the man question began to revolutionize gender relations He examines "the other liberal tradition in America" which downplays the value of individualism, elevates the ongoing significance of an "engendered civic virtue," and incorporates classical republicanism into the fabric of modern political discourse.

The author traces the cultural conditioning of the white middle class that produced the ideal of self-sacrificing wives whose lives were devoted to creating a haven for their husbands and a school of virtue for their sons. Upon leaving home, these young men were to be schooled in manliness in the military in order to be capable of assuming positions of power as they were vacated by their fathers’ generation. Thus, in the norms of fatherhood, fraternity, womanhood, and militarism, the male’s individualism was conditioned with a strong dose of civic virtue.


front cover of Persona
Social Role and Personality
Helen Harris Perlman
University of Chicago Press, 1986
Persona is the Latin word for the mask used in Greek drama with which the actor assumed his role and defined his identity. Perlman analyzes the way in which adult roles assumed in work, marriage, and parenthood continue to shape human personality. Referring to Freud's definition of maturity as the ability to love and to work, she discusses how a person makes himself known through the roles involved in loving and working, what expectations a person brings to each role, and what personal changes can come about through the demands of being a worker, marriage partner, and parent.

front cover of Tasteful Domesticity
Tasteful Domesticity
Women's Rhetoric and the American Cookbook, 1790-1940
Sarah W. Walden
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018
Tasteful Domesticity demonstrates how women marginalized by gender, race, ethnicity, and class used the cookbook as a rhetorical space in which to conduct public discussions of taste and domesticity. Taste discourse engages cultural values as well as physical constraints, and thus serves as a bridge between the contested space of the self and the body, particularly for women in the nineteenth century. Cookbooks represent important contact zones of social philosophies, cultural beliefs, and rhetorical traditions, and through their rhetoric, we witness women’s roles as republican mothers, sentimental evangelists, wartime fundraisers, home economists, and social reformers. Beginning in the early republic and tracing the cookbook through the publishing boom of the nineteenth century, the Civil War and Reconstruction, the Progressive era, and rising racial tensions of the early twentieth century, Sarah W. Walden examines the role of taste as an evolving rhetorical strategy that allowed diverse women to engage in public discourse through published domestic texts.

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