The Pursuit of Attention: Power and Ego in Everyday Life

Overview

Charles Derber argues that there is a general lack of social support in today's America, which causes people to vie hungrily for attention, and he shows how individuals will often employ numerous techniques to turn the course of a conversation toward themselves. Illustrating this "conversational narcissism" with sample dialogues that will seem disturbingly familiar to all readers, this book analyzes the pursuit of attention in conversation - as well as in politics and celebrity culture - and demonstrates the ...
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Overview

Charles Derber argues that there is a general lack of social support in today's America, which causes people to vie hungrily for attention, and he shows how individuals will often employ numerous techniques to turn the course of a conversation toward themselves. Illustrating this "conversational narcissism" with sample dialogues that will seem disturbingly familiar to all readers, this book analyzes the pursuit of attention in conversation - as well as in politics and celebrity culture - and demonstrates the ultimate importance of gender, class, and racial differences in competing for attention. Derber shows how changes in the economy and culture - such as the advent of the Internet - have intensified the rampant individualism and egotism of today. And finally, in a new afterword, the focuses on solutions: how to restructure the economy and culture to humanize ourselves and increase the capacity for community, empathy, and attention-giving.

Derber analyzes the exchange and distribution of attention in conversations, and demonstrates the ultimate importance of gender, class and racial difference.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A refreshingly balanced, strongly grounded exploration of the routines Americans exploit in competing for attention...."--American Journal of Sociology (on the previous edition)

Booknews
This study investigates the question of why so many people have an obsessive need for others' recognition. It analyzes the pursuit of attention in conversation, including politics and celebrity culture, and shows how gender, class, race, and the new techno-culture fit into current rampant narcissism. Derber (sociology, Boston College) argues that in modern American culture there is little social support, which causes people to vie for attention. He offers solutions, such as how to restructure the economy and culture to increase the capacity for community, empathy, and attention-giving. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195135497
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 4/28/2000
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 5.30 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles Derber, author of Corporation Nation and The Wilding of America, is Professor of Sociology at Boston College.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction to the Second Edition
Pt. I Informal Dynamics Individualism
1 Every Man for Himself; Every Woman for Herself: Individualism Face-to-Face 9
2 Monopolizing the Conversation: On Being Civilly Egocentric 18
Pt. II Formal DynamicsPower
3 The Gift of Attention-Giving: On Women Imposed 38
4 Attention for Sale: The Hidden Privileges of Class 57
5 On One's Own: The Overburdened Self and the Need for Attention 78
Conclusion to the Second Edition 89
Notes 105
Bibliography 124
Index 129
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