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Discourse, Emotion, and Social Structure

Moving beyond the traditional boundaries of sociological investigation,
Thomas J. Scheff brings together the study of communication and the social
psychology of emotions to explore the microworld of thoughts, feelings,
and moods. Drawing on strikingly diverse and rich sources—the findings of
artificial intelligence and cognitive science, and examples from literary
dialogues and psychiatric interviews—Scheff provides an inventive account
of the nature of social life and a theory of motivation that brilliantly
accounts for the immense complexity involved in understanding even the most
routine conversation.

"A major contribution to some central debates in social theory at the
present time. . . . What Thomas Scheff seeks to develop is essentially a
quite novel account of the nature of social life, its relation to language
and human reflexivity, in which he insists upon the importance of a theory
of emotion. . . . A work of true originality and jolting impact. . . .
Microsociology is of exceptional interest, which bears witness to the
very creativity which it puts at the center of human social contact."
—Anthony Giddens, from the Foreword

"Scheff provides a rich theory that can easily generate further exploration. And he drives home the message that sociological work on interaction, social bonds, and society cannot ignore human emotionality."—Candace Clark, American Journal of Sociology

"This outstanding and ground-breaking little volume contains a wealth of original ideas that bring together many insights concerning the relationship of emotion to motivation in a wide variety of social settings. It is strongly recommended to all serious students of emotion, of society, and of human nature."—Melvin R. Lansky, American Journal of Psychiatry

232 pages | 6 x 9 | © 1990

Political Science: Political and Social Theory

Psychology: Social Psychology

Rhetoric and Communication

Sociology: General Sociology

Table of Contents

Foreword by Anthony Giddens
Part 1: Introduction
1. Human Nature and the Social Bond
2. Micro- and Macroworlds: Community and Society
Part 2: Understanding: A Verstehende Soziologie
3. Meaning, Context, and Interpretation
4. Studies of Problem Solving and of Conversation: A Critique and a Proposal
Part 3: Implicature and Emotion in Discourse
5. Shame and Conformity: The Deference-Emotion System
6. Microlinguistics: A Theory of Social Action
7. Emotion and Suicide: Analysis of an Incident from Werther
Part 4: Applications
8. Expert and Commonsense Knowledge: A Proposal for Integration
9. Language Acquisition versus Formal Education: A Theory of Genius
Part 5: Conclusion
10. The Microfoundations of Social Structure
Index of References
Subject Index

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