The role of the reflexive self in mailer's protests

DEAN, Jonathan (2014). The role of the reflexive self in mailer's protests. Contention: The Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Protest, 1 (2), 11-26.

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In The Armies of the Night (1968) and Miami and the Siege of Chicago (1968/2008) Norman Mailer details the exploits of the anti-Vietnam war protestors and his role in the protests. With an ethnographer's eye for detail and a novelist's eye for imagery, he constructs a picture of youthful fear and exuberance, a totalitarian reaction to protest, and documents an America which he realises is slowing eating itself. In these nonfiction novels, he places himself at the centre of events, interpreting the data through his own frazzled, drink-fuelled, mischievous self. This article utilises Pierre Bourdieu's methodological framework of reflexive sociology to both critically analyse Mailer as an ethnographer and qualitative researcher and ask whether inquiry into social protest can be adequately conducted through the autobiographical gaze of a novelist. It is argued that by using such literary resources and techniques, we can, in the spirit of C. Wright Mills, move to a more public sociology where literary techniques are valued, rather than dismissed as unscientific.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Part of the special issue : Research and Methods in the Study of Social Protest: Dialogues on Disciplines
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Sociology, Politics and Policy Research Group
Depositing User: Jonathan Dean
Date Deposited: 16 May 2014 10:20
Last Modified: 20 Aug 2015 18:05

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