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- New book: Michal Pagis – Inward: Vipassana Meditation and the Embodiment of the Self.2019-10-18 18:19(0)
Inward: Vipassana Meditation and the Embodiment of the Self. Michal Pagis University of Chicago Press Western society has never been more interested in interiority. Indeed, it seems more and more people are deliberately looking inward—toward the mind, the body, or both. Inward focuses on one increasingly popular channel for the introverted gaze: vipassana meditation, a Buddhist meditation of mindfulness that was revitalized and adapted for a secular audience. The practice of vipassana and the microsociological world that surrounds it form the core of this book, yet the reader will be taken far beyond vipassana itself. Through examining the phenomenological reality of vipassana practitioners, their silent interactions in meditation centers, their heightened sensitivity to the body, and their attempts to transform themselves and their social lives by monitoring bodily sensations, Inward supplies a novel sociological framework for the study of the place of embodied awareness in processes of self-making. At the close of this rich ethnographic account, the reader will see how, through communities, routines and rituals, individuals turn their attention inward without stepping out of society and negotiate the tensions engendered by contemporary social life. Courtney Bender, Columbia University “Pagis deftly draws readers into the world of contemporary vipasanna meditation, and in so doing shows us how fruitful—and important—sociological attention to the varied social practices that retool the relations of self and other, private and public, visible and invisible, can be. Inward is a beautifully rendered ethnography with important implications for the study of the body and self-making.” Randall Collins, University of Pennsylvania “This striking ethnography sticks in one’s mind: rooms full of silent meditators coordinating their body rhythms on a tacit channel, observing sensations over every inch of their bodies, and washing away pains not by seeking their causes but by detached attention. Pagis depicts meditation in a secular age, not as religion but as bodies among bodies giving each other space to repair the inroads of too much social self.” Andreas Glaeser, University of Chicago “Pagis’ beautifully written, brilliantly argued ethnography of meditation makes three major contributions: it shows how some of our most private experiences are socially enabled; it demonstrates how our selves are not only linguistically but sensuously mediated; and it reveals how attention is not merely a faculty but a practice. All three have profound consequences for understanding the sociality of human beings.Categories: Publication
- New book: Edgar Cabanas and Eva Illouz – Manufacturing Happy Citizens: How the Science and Industry of Happiness Control our Lives2019-08-27 14:37(0)
Edgar Cabanas and Eva Illouz Manufacturing Happy Citizens: How the Science and Industry of Happiness Control our Lives Polity, 2019 The imperative of happiness dictates the conduct and direction of our lives. There is no escape from the tyranny of positivity. But is happiness the supreme good that all of us should pursue? So says a new breed of so-called happiness experts, with positive psychologists, happiness economists and self-development gurus at the forefront. With the support of influential institutions and multinational corporations, these self-proclaimed experts now tell us what governmental policies to apply, what educational interventions to make and what changes we must undertake in order to lead more successful, more meaningful and healthier lives. With a healthy scepticism, this book documents the powerful social impact of the science and industry of happiness, arguing that the neoliberal alliance between psychologists, economists and self-development gurus has given rise to a new and oppressive form of government and control in which happiness has been woven into the very fabric of power. Reviews: ‘This brilliantly researched and beautifully argued book offers a devastating critique of the contemporary obsession with happiness. Edgar Cabanas and Eva Illouz interrogate the flaws, inconsistencies and generalizations of happiness “science” and positive psychology, showing how it has become central to a blame culture in which structural inequalities are made over as psychological deficits. Essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the way that neoliberalism increasingly operates through psychological modes promoting confidence, resilience and “positive” feelings.’ Rosalind Gill, City, University of London ‘How have the science and industry of happiness transformed our expectations about what a good life means, and at what cost? In their critical inquiry, Edgar Cabanas and Eva Illouz powerfully demonstrate the pervasive neoliberal logics and pernicious social consequences of the contemporary politics of happiness.’ Didier Fassin, Professor of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study, PrincetonCategories: Publication
- Learning “Merit” in a Chinese Preschool: Bringing the Anthropological Perspective to Understanding Moral Development2019-06-22 08:24(0)
Abstract: Moral development in early childhood has recently raised heightened interest across social sciences. Integrating controlled methods into ethnographic fieldwork, this article investigates how Chinese preschool children develop their understanding of “merit,” an important fairness principle in resource allocation, through socialization of biaoxian hao. Whereas the experimental data taps into distributing reward based on how much one contributes to collective work, a standard attribute of “merit” in psychology literature, ethnographic analysis reveals how children’s understanding of merit is mediated by the cultural discourse of biaoxian hao, a significant moral framework in contemporary China that refers to self‐presentation in authority‐evaluation contexts, with a hierarchical dimension. Ethnography further demonstrates the developmental trajectory of learning biaoxian hao and the powerful disciplinary mechanism of overt social comparison and moral evaluation. By showing how two basic moral concerns, sensitivity to fairness and inclination to impress authority, intersect in early development in cultural contexts, this mixed‐methods research provides a direction for cultural anthropology to contribute to the interdisciplinary study of moral development. [merit, fairness, biaoxian, moral development, China]Categories: Publication
- Book: Transnational Popular Psychology and the Global Self-Help Industry2019-06-21 11:00(0)
This book offers a fresh perspective on self-help culture and popular psychology. Research on this subject matter has generally focused on the USA and other societies in the Global Northwest. In contrast, this book explores the production, circulation and consumption of self-help books from an innovative transnational perspective. Case studies on Trinidad and Tobago, Mexico, the People’s Republic of China, the United Kingdom and the USA explore the roles which self-help’s therapeutic narratives of self and social relationships play in the contemporary world. In this context, the book engages with the question to what extent self-help may live up to its promise of individual autonomy and fulfilment. At the same time, it addresses debates about contemporary processes of globalisation as sources of cultural standardization.Categories: Publication
- New book: Therapeutic worlds2019-06-17 16:35(0)
My new book, Therapeutic Worlds, was published by Routledge in March 2019. I have attached a flyer with a discount code. A little bit about the book: Drawing on in-depth interviews with self-help readers, the book considers how popular psychology organises their everyday experiences of intimate life. It argues that the proliferation of self-help media contributes to the psychologisation of intimate relationships and obscures the social dimensions of intimacy in terms of gender, race, ethnicity, and other social structures and inequalities. At the same time, the book draws on anthropological arguments about the colonisation of consciousness in the Global South to interpret the insertion of transnationally mobile popular psychology. An innovative contribution to scholarship on therapeutic cultures, which explores the widely under-researched dissemination of popular psychology in the Global South, the book adds to a sociological understanding of the ways in which therapeutic narratives of self and intimate relationships come to be incorporated into everyday experience. As such, it will appeal to scholars of cultural studies, anthropology, and the sociology of gender, sexuality, families, and personal life.Categories: Publication
- Publications2019-06-15 09:41(0)
Check this page for information about new monographs, edited collections, chapters, and articles.Categories: Publication