Microsociology: Discourse, Emotion, and Social Structure
University of Chicago Press, 1990 - 214 pages
Moving beyond the traditional boundaries of sociological investigation,
Thomas J. Scheff brings together the study of communication and the social
psychology of emotions to explore the microworld of thoughts, feelings,
and moods. Drawing on strikingly diverse and rich sources—the findings of
artificial intelligence and cognitive science, and examples from literary
dialogues and psychiatric interviews—Scheff provides an inventive account
of the nature of social life and a theory of motivation that brilliantly
accounts for the immense complexity involved in understanding even the most
"A major contribution to some central debates in social theory at the
present time. . . . What Thomas Scheff seeks to develop is essentially a
quite novel account of the nature of social life, its relation to language
and human reflexivity, in which he insists upon the importance of a theory
of emotion. . . . A work of true originality and jolting impact. . . .
Microsociology is of exceptional interest, which bears witness to the
very creativity which it puts at the center of human social contact."
—Anthony Giddens, from the Foreword
"Scheff provides a rich theory that can easily generate further exploration. And he drives home the message that sociological work on interaction, social bonds, and society cannot ignore human emotionality."—Candace Clark, American Journal of Sociology
"This outstanding and ground-breaking little volume contains a wealth of original ideas that bring together many insights concerning the relationship of emotion to motivation in a wide variety of social settings. It is strongly recommended to all serious students of emotion, of society, and of human nature."—Melvin R. Lansky, American Journal of Psychiatry
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