The unlived life is worth examining: nothings and nobodies behind the scenes.

Scott, Susie (2018) The unlived life is worth examining: nothings and nobodies behind the scenes. In: Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction Couch-Stone, 4,5,6 July 2018, Lancaster, UK.

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Do we have a social and moral duty to ourselves to examine ‘the other side’ of our own lives? The roads we have not taken, the selves we did not become, reflect choices and constraints that hold significance and meaning, persisting throughout our lives. These negative phenomena are the underdogs of social selfhood: transgressive, ghostly forms that haunt us and yet remain unmarked, unexplored, under-studied. Through my project on ‘the sociology of nothing’, I turn over the mirror to consider the biographical importance of these negative symbolic forms: the ‘no-things’ people have not done, had or experienced, the ‘no-bodies’ that they have missed. Analysing narrative data from 24 personal stories, I identify themes of silence, invisibility and emptiness, and explore different emotional reflections upon lost opportunities. Through a symbolic interactionist lens, I consider the micro-social, relational contexts in which the ‘non-events’ of life occur and how they are negotiated. Finally, I suggest that we perform reverse narrative identity work upon our undone selves, imagining the alternate realities a ‘non-Me’ could have known and the social worlds it might inhabit. All of this suggests that negative phenomena are powerful, for nothing really matters.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Keynote)
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Sociology
Depositing User: Susie Scott
Date Deposited: 14 Sep 2018 10:59
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2019 14:46
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