Heroic Efforts: The Emotional Culture of Search and Rescue Volunteers / Edition 1

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Overview

Winner of the 2006 Outstanding Recent Contribution Award from the American Sociological Association, Sociology of Emotions Section

Many search and rescue workers voluntarily interrupt their lives when they are called upon to help strangers. They awake in the middle of the night to cover miles of terrain in search of lost hikers or leave work to search potential avalanche zones for missing skiers, snowboarders, and snowmobilers in blizzard conditions. They often put their own lives in danger to rescue stranded, hypothermic kayakers and rafters from rivers.

Drawing on six years of participant observation and in-depth interviews, Jennifer Lois examines the emotional subculture of “Peak,” a volunteer mountain-environment search and rescue team. Rescuers were not only confronted by physical dangers, but also by emotional challenges, including both keeping their own emotions in check during crisis situations, and managing the emotions of others, such as those they were rescuing. Lois examines how rescuers constructed meaning in their lives and defined themselves through their heroic work.

Heroic Efforts serves as an easy to understand sociological introduction to the ways emotions develop and connect us to our surroundings, as well as to the links between the concept of heroism and other sociological theories such as those on gender stereotypes and edgework.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Jennifer Lois’outstanding in-depth ethnography of mountain search and rescue teams yields insight not only into the specific heroic culture of rescue workers, but also more generally into that of other risk-takers such as firefighters, police officers, and ER doctors. Lois focuses on the way emotions drive some and impede others, how difficult emotions are handled in crisis situations and released afterwards, and the emotional currency or repayment between heroes and those they rescue. She skillfully shows the way heroism intertwines with masculinity, producing an organizational culture stratified by gender. Finally, she discusses the transference of the hero identity from the group to individual members and their subsequent self-effacement in a culture of false modesty when interacting with their support community.”
-Patricia A. Adler,University of Colorado at Boulder

“Lois takes readers inside the social world of search and rescue volunteers, offering sociological insight into topics such as gender, emotions, and identity.”
-American Journal of Sociology

,

Heroic Efforts began as a dissertation, but ends as one of the best book on emotions I have read in years. If you want a glimpse into the power of really good ethnography and the reason we need both qualitative and quantitative research, this book will provide you with both entertainment and sagacity.”
-Contemporary Sociology

,

“[Lois] examines how rescuers construct meaning in their lives and define themselves through their risky, demanding work.”
-Seattle Times

,

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814751848
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 5/13/2012
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 233
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Jennifer Lois is Associate Professor of Sociology at Western Washington University.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
1 Studying Peak Search and Rescue 25
2 Joining Up 44
3 Socializing Heroes 64
4 Dealing with Crisis: Rescuers' Emotions 85
5 Dealing with Others in Crisis: Managing Victims' and Families' Emotions 114
6 Labeling Heroes: Letters from Survivors and Families 144
7 The Emotional Rewards of Rescue Work 156
8 Heroic Efforts 172
Notes 197
References 215
Index 229
About the Author 233
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