By Nina Eliasoph
Civic teams are acknowledged to be the fount of democracy, yet those vibrant images of yank existence show an fascinating tradition of political avoidance. Nina Eliasoph observed volunteers, activists and activity membership individuals, hearing them talk--and no longer talk--politics, in more than a few deepest and public settings. in contrast to interview-based stories of political participation and civic tradition, averting Politics exhibits how voters create and speak political rules in daily life, and the labor it takes to provide apathy in a democracy.
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Extra resources for Avoiding Politics: How Americans Produce Apathy in Everyday Life
I wrote in field notes, "How embarrassing! Trudy probably thought I was asking leading questions, when really, I was just confused! " Trudy was acting appropriately here, group members would surely have said. Sociolinguist Teun van Dijk (1987) would say that this hesitation and circumlocution is clear evidence of "racism," but I do not think that would be a good explanation. Avoidance was the way the volunteers publicly treated all troubling social issues. The problem was not racism per se, but volunteers' relation to political discussion in general, including discussion of racism.
The problem was, there was nothing but fast-food restaurants there; the students wanted a more stylish prom than could be held at Pizza Hut or Taco Bell, and spent vast sums to travel by limousine to get it. 7 What was most taboo was speaking about problems in terms of justice publicly minded speech that was considered wrong, but addressing the same 34 Avoiding politics problem in a piecemeal way was considered all right. Charles committed a faux pas when he raised a principle for a group fundraising activity at a Parent League meeting, in a discussion about raising funds to buy computers for the high school: First, has anybody tried going over to Microchip Lane [the general name for an area nearby, known internationally as a center for computer production] and asked for computers?
No, that's Passover. SHERRY [laughing]: Joan [turning toward me and a new member] - she teaches our kids at Catholic Confirmation classes - Passover doesn't apply to you! JOAN [in a mock hillbilly accent, so as not to sound too ponderous]: It's a matter of principle. BOB [slams his hand down on the table in mock fury, then smiles]: OK. JOAN [apologizing]: It's just that last year I learned my lesson. I scheduled something for Rosh Hashanah and got murdered. And it was only two families - or three.