Disrupted Lives: How People Create Meaning in a Chaotic World

Univ of California Press
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Our lives are full of disruptions, from the minor—a flat tire, an unexpected phone call—to the fateful—a diagnosis of infertility, an illness, the death of a loved one. In the first book to examine disruption in American life from a cultural rather than a psychological perspective, Gay Becker follows hundreds of people to find out what they do after something unexpected occurs. Starting with bodily distress, she shows how individuals recount experiences of disruption metaphorically, drawing on important cultural themes to help them reestablish order and continuity in their lives. Through vivid and poignant stories of people from different walks of life who experience different types of disruptions, Becker examines how people rework their ideas about themselves and their worlds, from the meaning of disruption to the meaning of life itself.

Becker maintains that to understand disruption, we must also understand cultural definitions of normalcy. She questions what is normal for a family, for health, for womanhood and manhood, and for growing older. In the United States, where life is expected to be orderly and predictable, disruptions are particularly unsettling, she contends. And, while continuity in life is an illusion, it is an effective one because it organizes people's plans and expectations.

Becker's phenomenological approach yields a rich, compelling, and entirely original narrative. Disrupted Lives acknowledges the central place of discontinuity in our existence at the same time as it breaks new ground in understanding the cultural dynamics that underpin life in the United States.

FROM THE BOOK:"The doctor was blunt. He does not mince words. He did a [semen] analysis and he came back and said, 'This is devastatingly poor.' I didn't expect to hear that. It had never occurred to me. It was such a shock to my sense of self and to all these preconceptions of my manliness and virility and all of that. That was a very, very devastating moment and I was dumbfounded. . . . In that moment it totally changed the way that I thought of myself."
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About the author

Gay Becker is Professor in Residence in Social and Behavioral Sciences and Medical Anthropology at the University of California, San Francisco. Her previous books include Growing Old in Silence (California, 1980) and Healing the Infertile Family (California paperback, 1997).

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Additional Information

Publisher
Univ of California Press
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Published on
Jan 6, 1998
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Pages
275
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ISBN
9780520919242
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Language
English
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Genres
Social Science / Gerontology
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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In the first book to examine the industry of reproductive technology from the perspective of the consumer, Gay Becker scrutinizes the staggering array of medical options available to women and men with fertility problems and assesses the toll—both financial and emotional—that the quest for a biological child often exacts from would-be parents. Becker interviewed hundreds of people over a period of years; their stories are presented here in their own words. Absorbing, informative, and in many cases moving, these stories address deep-seated notions about gender, self-worth, and the cultural ideal of biological parenthood. Becker moves beyond people's personal experiences to examine contemporary meanings of technology and the role of consumption in modern life. What emerges is a clear view of technology as culture, with technology the template on which issues such as gender, nature, and the body are being rewritten and continuously altered.

The Elusive Embryo chronicles the history and development of reproductive technology, and shows how global forces in consumer culture have contributed to the industry's growth. Becker examines how increasing use of reproductive technology has changed ideas about "natural" pregnancy and birth. Discussing topics such as in vitro fertilization, how men and women "naturalize" the use of a donor, and what happens when new reproductive technologies don't work, Becker shows how the experience of infertility has become increasingly politicized as potential parents confront the powerful forces that shape this industry. The Elusive Embryo is accessible, well written, and well documented. It will be an invaluable resource for people using or considering new reproductive technologies as well as for social scientists and health professionals.
From acclaimed journalist Bill Gifford comes a roaring journey into the world of anti-aging science in search of answers to a universal obsession: what can be done about getting old?

SPRING CHICKEN:
Stay Young Forever (or Die Trying)

SPRING CHICKEN is a full-throttle, high-energy ride through the latest research, popular mythology, and ancient wisdom on mankind's oldest obsession: How can we live longer? And better? In his funny, self-deprecating voice, veteran reporter Bill Gifford takes readers on a fascinating journey through the science of aging, from the obvious signs like wrinkles and baldness right down into the innermost workings of cells. We visit cutting-edge labs where scientists are working to "hack" the aging process, like purging "senescent" cells from mice to reverse the effects of aging. He'll reveal why some people live past 100 without even trying, what has happened with resveratrol, the "red wine pill" that made headlines a few years ago, how your fat tissue is trying to kill you, and how it's possible to unlock longevity-promoting pathways that are programmed into our very genes. Gifford separates the wheat from the chaff as he exposes hoaxes and scams foisted upon an aging society, and arms readers with the best possible advice on what to do, what not to do, and what life-changing treatments may be right around the corner.

An intoxicating mixture of deep reporting, fascinating science, and prescriptive takeaway, SPRING CHICKEN will reveal the extraordinary breakthroughs that may yet bring us eternal youth, while exposing dangerous deceptions that prey on the innocent and ignorant.
In the first book to examine the industry of reproductive technology from the perspective of the consumer, Gay Becker scrutinizes the staggering array of medical options available to women and men with fertility problems and assesses the toll—both financial and emotional—that the quest for a biological child often exacts from would-be parents. Becker interviewed hundreds of people over a period of years; their stories are presented here in their own words. Absorbing, informative, and in many cases moving, these stories address deep-seated notions about gender, self-worth, and the cultural ideal of biological parenthood. Becker moves beyond people's personal experiences to examine contemporary meanings of technology and the role of consumption in modern life. What emerges is a clear view of technology as culture, with technology the template on which issues such as gender, nature, and the body are being rewritten and continuously altered.

The Elusive Embryo chronicles the history and development of reproductive technology, and shows how global forces in consumer culture have contributed to the industry's growth. Becker examines how increasing use of reproductive technology has changed ideas about "natural" pregnancy and birth. Discussing topics such as in vitro fertilization, how men and women "naturalize" the use of a donor, and what happens when new reproductive technologies don't work, Becker shows how the experience of infertility has become increasingly politicized as potential parents confront the powerful forces that shape this industry. The Elusive Embryo is accessible, well written, and well documented. It will be an invaluable resource for people using or considering new reproductive technologies as well as for social scientists and health professionals.
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