Gifted Tongues: High School Debate and Adolescent Culture

Princeton University Press
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Learning to argue and persuade in a highly competitive environment is only one aspect of life on a high-school debate team. Teenage debaters also participate in a distinct cultural world--complete with its own jargon and status system--in which they must negotiate complicated relationships with teammates, competitors, coaches, and parents as well as classmates outside the debating circuit. In Gifted Tongues, Gary Alan Fine offers a rich description of this world as a testing ground for both intellectual and emotional development, while seeking to understand adolescents as social actors. Considering the benefits and drawbacks of the debating experience, he also recommends ways of reshaping programs so that more high schools can use them to boost academic performance and foster specific skills in citizenship.

Fine analyzes the training of debaters in rapid-fire speech, rules of logical argumentation, and the strategic use of evidence, and how this training instills the core values of such American institutions as law and politics. Debates, however, sometimes veer quickly from fine displays of logic to acts of immaturity--a reflection of the tensions experienced by young people learning to think as adults. Fine contributes to our understanding of teenage years by encouraging us not to view them as a distinct stage of development but rather a time in which young people draw from a toolkit of both childlike and adult behaviors. A well-designed debate program, he concludes, nurtures the intellect while providing a setting in which teens learn to make better behavioral choices, ones that will shape relationships in their personal, professional, and civic lives.

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About the author

Gary Alan Fine is Professor of Sociology at Northwestern University. He is the author of Morel Tales: The Culture of Mushrooming, Kitchens: The Culture of Restaurant Work, and With the Boys: Little League Baseball and Preadolescent Culture.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Jul 1, 2010
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Pages
328
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ISBN
9781400824199
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Language
English
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Genres
Social Science / Sociology / General
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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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Economists and Societies is the first book to systematically compare the profession of economics in the United States, Britain, and France, and to explain why economics, far from being a uniform science, differs in important ways among these three countries. Drawing on in-depth interviews with economists, institutional analysis, and a wealth of scholarly evidence, Marion Fourcade traces the history of economics in each country from the late nineteenth century to the present, demonstrating how each political, cultural, and institutional context gave rise to a distinct professional and disciplinary configuration. She argues that because the substance of political life varied from country to country, people's experience and understanding of the economy, and their political and intellectual battles over it, crystallized in different ways--through scientific and mercantile professionalism in the United States, public-minded elitism in Britain, and statist divisions in France. Fourcade moves past old debates about the relationship between culture and institutions in the production of expert knowledge to show that scientific and practical claims over the economy in these three societies arose from different elites with different intellectual orientations, institutional entanglements, and social purposes.

Much more than a history of the economics profession, Economists and Societies is a revealing exploration of American, French, and British society and culture as seen through the lens of their respective economic institutions and the distinctive character of their economic experts.

Volunteering improves inner character, builds community, cures poverty, and prevents crime. We've all heard this kind of empowerment talk from nonprofit and government-sponsored civic programs. But what do these programs really accomplish? In Making Volunteers, Nina Eliasoph offers an in-depth, humorous, wrenching, and at times uplifting look inside youth and adult civic programs. She reveals an urgent need for policy reforms in order to improve these organizations and shows that while volunteers learn important lessons, they are not always the lessons that empowerment programs aim to teach.

With short-term funding and a dizzy mix of mandates from multiple sponsors, community programs develop a complex web of intimacy, governance, and civic life. Eliasoph describes the at-risk youth served by such programs, the college-bound volunteers who hope to feel selfless inspiration and plump up their resumés, and what happens when the two groups are expected to bond instantly through short-term projects. She looks at adult "plug-in" volunteers who, working in after-school programs and limited by time, hope to become like beloved aunties to youth. Eliasoph indicates that adult volunteers can provide grassroots support but they can also undermine the family-like warmth created by paid organizers. Exploring contradictions between the democratic rhetoric of empowerment programs and the bureaucratic hurdles that volunteers learn to navigate, the book demonstrates that empowerment projects work best with less precarious funding, more careful planning, and mandatory training, reflection, and long-term commitments from volunteers.


Based on participant research inside civic and community organizations, Making Volunteers illustrates what these programs can and cannot achieve, and how to make them more effective.

A chess match seems as solitary an endeavor as there is in sports: two minds, on their own, in fierce opposition. In contrast, Gary Alan Fine argues that chess is a social duet: two players in silent dialogue who always take each other into account in their play. Surrounding that one-on-one contest is a community life that can be nearly as dramatic and intense as the across-the-board confrontation.

Fine has spent years immersed in the communities of amateur and professional chess players, and with Players and Pawns he takes readers deep inside them, revealing a complex, brilliant, feisty world of commitment and conflict. Opening with a close look at a typical tournament in Atlantic City, Fine carries us from planning and setup through the climactic final day’s match-ups between the weekend’s top players, introducing us along the way to countless players and their relationships to the game. At tournaments like that one, as well as in locales as diverse as collegiate matches and community chess clubs, players find themselves part of what Fine terms a “soft community,” an open, welcoming space built on their shared commitment to the game. Within that community, chess players find both support and challenges, all amid a shared interest in and love of the long-standing traditions of the game, traditions that help chess players build a communal identity.

Full of idiosyncratic characters and dramatic gameplay, Players and Pawns is a celebration of the ever-fascinating world of serious chess.
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Rumor has been recognized as one of the most important contributing factors to violence and discrimination. Yet, despite its significance in exacerbating social discord and mistrust, little systematic scholarly attention has been paid to the political origins and consequences of rumor. Rumor is defined as a proposition for belief that is not backed by secure standards of evidence. Rumor can be traditional or not, and can be expressed as a simple claim of fact. In both instances groups of claim-makers, operating out of their own interests and with a set of resources, attempt to depict reality, and if possible, impact the future.

The need for this book is underscored by changing patterns of technology. What in the past was grounded in face- to-face interaction is now often found on the Internet, which is a major source of rumor. An appreciation of how new electronic forms of communication affect communal belief is essential for explicating rumor dynamics. The volume is comprehensive. Essays cover race and ethnicity, migration and globalization, corporate malfeasance, and state and government corruption. While editors and contributors well appreciate the dynamic nature of rumors and legends, the high quality of the effort make it evident that the issues that are raised and reoccur will serve to channel and inspire research in this major field of communications research for years to come.

Gary Alan Fine is professor of sociology at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Veronique Campion-Vincent is a folklorist at the Maison des Sciences de l'Homme, in Paris, France. Chip Heath is associate professor of organizational behavior in the Graduate School for Business at Stanford University in California. Each are accomplished authors and researchers--as are the participants in the volume itself.
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