Existential sociology of Joseph Kotarba


Melnikov A.S.

Сand. Sci. (Sociol.), Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Sociology, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Kyiv, Ukraine melnkov@ukr.net

ID of the Article:


For citation:

Melnikov A.S. Existential sociology of Joseph Kotarba. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2017. No 5. P. 127-135




Abstract

The paper presents the project of existential sociology of contemporary American sociologist and representative of the California School Joseph Kotarba. The project includes general theory of existential sociology and existential perspectives on personality, sociology of medicine and sociology of music. The fundamental concept of personality is aimed at theoretical reconstruction of existence as an individual experience of everyday social reality. The personality is described as existential self with characteristics of embodiment (“brute being”) and becoming. Sensory-emotional substrate of social experience is asserted as more fundamental compared to rational and evaluative level of existential self. There is also differentiation of two stages in development of self which are basic security and self-actualization with openness to new experience (intensification of the sense of self) respectively. General Kotarba’s methodological position is defined as “inductivism” or sequence of a sociological study from qualitative empirical research of individual everyday experience and personal specific meanings of situations to more abstract, transsituational levels of social reality. Everyday social experience is referred to as traits of variability, problematic, complexity, uncertainty, drama, and, therefore, relations of the individual and society are understood as a confrontation. Existential sociology of Kotarba aims to explore wide range of issues, such as search for meanings in states of uncertainty, dissatisfaction with an individual sense of self and demands of society, interpretation of social change as reflections of new forms of self-actualization and self-consciousness, situational multiplicity of existential self, experience of meaninglessness and absurd, authenticity and inner strength. Kotarba’s contributions to the development of paradigmatic foundations of existential sociology are mentioned.


Keywords
Joseph Kotarba; existential sociology; inductivism; social existence; experience; situation; uncertainty; meaning; authenticity

References

Мельников А. Калифорнийская школа экзистенциальной социологии: общая характеристика деятельности // Социологические исследования: сборник научных трудов. № 11. Луганск: ВНУ им. В. Даля, 2011. С. 89–101. [Mel’nikov A. (2011) Kalifornijskaja shkola `ekzistentsial’noj sotsiologii: obschaja harakteristika dejatel’nosti [California School of Existential Sociology: General Characteristic of Activity]. In: Sotsiologicheskie issledovanija: sbornik nauchnyh trudov [Sociological Studies: collection of scientific papers]. No. 11. Lugansk: VNU im. V. Dalja: 89–101. (In Russ.)]

Мельников А. Экзистенциальная социология Дж. Джонсона // Социология: теория, методы, мар- кетинг. 2015. № 4 (декабрь). [Mel’nikov A. (2015) `Ekzistentsial’naja sotsiologija Dzh. Dzhonsona [Existential sociology of J. Johnson]. Sotsiologija: teorija, metody, marketing [Sociology: theory, methods, marketing]. No. 4 (December) (In Russ.)]

Мельников А. Экзистенциальная социология Андреа Фонтаны // Социологический альманах. 2016. Вып. 7. С. 35–41. [Mel’nikov A. (2016) `Ekzistentsial’naja sotsiologija Andrea Fontany [Existential sociology of Andrea Fontana]. In: Sotsiologicheskiy almanah [Sociological almanah]. Vol. 7: 35–41.

Day S., Kotarba J. (2014) The Didactic Relevance of the Death of Deviance Debate. In: The Death and Resurrection of Deviance. New York: Palgrave Macmillan: 255–276.

Deegan M. (1980) On responsibility in ethnography (comment on Kotarba). In: Qualitative Sociology. Vol. 3 (4): 323–329.

Johnson J., Douglas J. (eds) (1977) Existential Sociology. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Kotarba J., Fontana A. (1984) The Existential Self in Society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Kotarba J. (1978) Masking Official Violence. In: Johnson J., Douglas J. (eds) Crime at the Top. Philadelphia: Lippincott: 256–268.

Kotarba J. (1979a) Existential Sociology. In: McNall S. (ed) Theoretical Perspectives in Sociology. New York: St. Martin’s Press: 348–368.

Kotarba J. (1979b) The Accomplishment of Intimacy in the Jail Visiting Room. In: Qualitative Sociology. Vol. 2 (2): 80–103.

Kotarba J. (1980a) Reply to Deegan. In: Qualitative Sociology. Vol. 3 (4): 329–331.

Kotarba J. (1980b) Labelling Theory and Everyday Deviance. In: Jack D. Douglas et al. Introduction to the Sociologies of Everyday Life. Boston: Allyn and Bacon: 82–112.

Kotarba J. (1984) A Synthesis: The Existential Self in Society. In: Kotarba J., Fontana A. The Existential Self in Society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press: 222–234.

Kotarba J. (1989) Norman Denzin and Jack Douglas on the Inner Self. In: Studies in Symbolic Interaction. Vol. 10: 109–120.

Kotarba J. (1990) Ethnography and AIDS: Returning to the Streets. In: Journal of Contemporary Ethnography. Vol. 19 (3): 259–270.

Kotarba J. (2009a) Existential Sociology. In: Jacobsen M. (ed) Encountering the Everyday: An Introduction to the Sociologies of the Unnoticed. New York: Palgrave/Macmillan: 139–161.

Kotarba J. (2009c) Pop Music as a Resource for Assembling an Authentic Self: A Phenomenological- Existential Perspective. In: Vannini P., Williams P. (eds) Authenticity in Everyday Life. Burlington: Ashgate: 153–168.

Kotarba J. (2012a) My Life as a Sociologist and an Interactionist. Studies in Symbolic Interaction. Vol. 38: 197–213.

Kotarba J. (2014) Existential Sociology. In: Jacobsen M., Kristiansen S. (eds) The Sociologies of Everyday Life. Copenhagen: Hans Reitzel: 258–297.

Kotarba J., Bentley P. (1988) Workplace Wellness Participation and the Becoming of Self. Social Science and Medicine. Vol. 26 (5): 551–558.

Kotarba J. et al. (2003) Inner Strength and the Existential Self among HIV+ Women. Research in the Sociology of Health Care. Vol. 21: 87–106.

Kotarba J. et al. (2013a) The Culture of Translational Science Research: A Qualitative Analysis. International Review of Qualitative Research. Vol. 5 (1): 127–142.

Kotarba J. et al. (2013b) Understanding Society through Popular Music. New York: Routledge.

Kotarba J., Held M. (2006) Professional Female Football Players. In: Waskul D., Vannini P. (eds) Body/ Embodiment: Symbolic Interaction and the Sociology of the Body. Burlington: Ashgate: 153–164.

Kotarba J., LaLone N. (2014) The Scene: A Conceptual Template for an Interactionist Approach to Contemporary Music. Studies in Symbolic Interaction. Vol. 42: 53–68.

Kotarba J., Ragsdale D., Morrow J. (1997) Everyday Life in A Dedicated HIV/AIDS Hospital Unit. Research in the Sociology of Health Care. Vol. 14: 51–76.

Lifton R. (1976) The Life of the Self. New York: Simon & Shuster.

Melnikov A., Kotarba J. (2017a, Forthcoming) Existential Sociology. In: Ritzer G. (ed.) The Encyclopedia of Sociology. Boston: Blackwell.

Melnikov A., Kotarba J. (2017b, Forthcoming) Jack Douglas and the Existential Sociology Project. In: Jacobson M. (ed.) The Interactionist Imagination: Meaning, Situation and Micro-Social Order. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Nowotny K., Kotarba J. et al. (2013) Authenticity in Latin Music. Music Sociology. Boulder: Paradigm: 7–80.

Kotarba J., Johnson J. (eds) (2002) Postmodern Existential Sociology. Walnut Creek: AltaMira Press.

Simon W., Gagnon J. (1976) The Anomie of Affluence. American Journal of Sociology. Vol. 82 (2): 154–176.

Tiryakian E. (1962) Sociologism and Existentialism. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.

Content No 5, 2017