One of French writer Georges Perec's most famous pieces, "I Remember", consists of 480 numbered paragraphs - each just a few short lines recalling a memory from his childhood. The work has neither a beginning nor an end, nor does it contain any analysis. But it nonetheless reveals profound truths about French society during the 1940s and '50s. Taking Perec's book as its cue, "Telling About Society" explores the unconventional ways we communicate what we know about society to others. The third in distinguished teacher Howard S. Becker's best-selling series of writing guides for social scientists, the book explores the many ways knowledge about society can be shared and interpreted through different forms of telling - fiction, films, photographs, maps, even mathematical models - many of which remain outside the boundaries of conventional social science. Eight case studies, including the photographs of Walker Evans, the plays of George Bernard Shaw, the novels of Jane Austen and Italo Calvino, and the sociology of Erving Goffman, provide convincing support for Becker's argument: that every way of telling about society is perfect - for some purpose.
The trick is, as Becker notes, to discover what purpose is served by doing it this way rather than that. With Becker's trademark humor and eminently practical advice, "Telling About Society" is an ideal guide for social scientists in all fields and for anyone interested in communicating knowledge in unconventional ways.
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
Number of pages: 304
Weight: 425 g
Dimensions: 22 x 17 x 2 mm
"Telling About Society should carry a warning label: 'Do not start reading unless you're prepared to spend the next few hours having your horizons broadened and your understanding of social sciences deepened. Further, prepare to abandon any belief that insight and originality are incompatible with clarity, accessibility, and plain good writing.' This book will immediately take its place on my shelves and my students' reading lists alongside Becker's Tricks of the Trade as an indispensable introduction to thinking about social science theory and research." - Larry Gross, professor and director, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California"