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A very social time : crafting community in antebellum New England /
Karen V. Hansen.
imprint
Berkeley : University of California Press, c1994.
description
xv, 262 p., [26] p. : ill.
ISBN
0520084748 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Berkeley : University of California Press, c1994.
isbn
0520084748 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
412180
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Karen V. Hansen is Associate Professor of Sociology at Brandeis University
Excerpts
Flap Copy
"Based on an extraordinarily rich and varied collection of diaries, letters, and autobiographies of European Americans and African Americans, this book presents the voices and views of unpropertied, unprivileged people and sensitively probes the commonalities and differences in their experiences and perspectives. Hansen persuasively argues that recognizing the 'social' domain illuminates the agency of working people and dissolves the stereotypically gendered public/private dichotomy."--Nancy Grey Osterud, author ofBonds of Community "It is a pleasure to welcome Karen Hansen into the first rank of historical sociologists. In this superb model of scholarship, she leads us on an illuminating tour of the social life of literate working people in antebellum New England. Her arena is 'the social'--the territory that overlaps with private and public, where the dynamics of friendship, visiting, gossip, and collective worship combine to fashion many of life's great joys and sorrows. Best of all, she tells her story through the experiences of the people themselves. In a clear and honest way, Hansen manages to raise fundamental questions about perceived conceptions of gender, class, and the public-private dichotomy."--Neil J. Smelser, University of California, Berkeley "This wonderful book makes a real contribution to our understanding of the lives of women and men in antebellum New England. With its focus on people of modest means and its meticulous and insightful exploration of friendship, visiting, gossip, and church-going, Hansen's work refines and concretizes how we conceive the 'social.'"--Mary Ann Clawson, Wesleyan University "How refreshing it is to see someone address the big issues in sociology based on the experience of real people. Karen Hansen has valuable things to say about the limits of the public/private distinction and the importance of the social. Her book moves the discussion of these issues to a new level."--Alan Wolfe, author ofThe Human Difference
Flap Copy
"Based on an extraordinarily rich and varied collection of diaries, letters, and autobiographies of European Americans and African Americans, this book presents the voices and views of unpropertied, unprivileged people and sensitively probes the commonalities and differences in their experiences and perspectives. Hansen persuasively argues that recognizing the 'social' domain illuminates the agency of working people and dissolves the stereotypically gendered public/private dichotomy."--Nancy Grey Osterud, author of Bonds of Community "It is a pleasure to welcome Karen Hansen into the first rank of historical sociologists. In this superb model of scholarship, she leads us on an illuminating tour of the social life of literate working people in antebellum New England. Her arena is 'the social'--the territory that overlaps with private and public, where the dynamics of friendship, visiting, gossip, and collective worship combine to fashion many of life's great joys and sorrows. Best of all, she tells her story through the experiences of the people themselves. In a clear and honest way, Hansen manages to raise fundamental questions about perceived conceptions of gender, class, and the public-private dichotomy."--Neil J. Smelser, University of California, Berkeley "This wonderful book makes a real contribution to our understanding of the lives of women and men in antebellum New England. With its focus on people of modest means and its meticulous and insightful exploration of friendship, visiting, gossip, and church-going, Hansen's work refines and concretizes how we conceive the 'social.'"--Mary Ann Clawson, Wesleyan University "How refreshing it is to see someone address the big issues in sociology based on the experience of real people. Karen Hansen has valuable things to say about the limits of the public/private distinction and the importance of the social. Her book moves the discussion of these issues to a new level."--Alan Wolfe, author of The Human Difference
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1994-11:
Hansen seeks to augment the predominant historical interpretation of 19th-century gender spheres (the public sphere for men versus the private sphere for women) with a consideration of the social sphere. She argues that as a category for studying the past, the social sphere more easily transcends lines of race, class, and gender. Hansen's initial point is well taken; the social sphere provides the metaphorical "place" where men and women of different classes and races did interact. With thorough research in letters and diaries of the period, Hansen ably demonstrates how men and women traversed the social sphere, sometimes intersecting and sometimes not. Chapters focus on friendship, visiting, gossip, and religion. The book has some notable weaknesses, however. Although Hanson acknowledges that the economic (or market) sphere was just as important as the social sphere in the 19th century, she fails to deal with the issue. Also troubling is Hansen's blatantly sociological approach to a historical topic and its accompanying historical literature, which (arguably) she interprets more rigidly than intended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. J. M. Lewis; University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Appeared in Library Journal on 1994-06-15:
Hansen (sociology, Brandeis Univ.) argues that defining men's realm as the ``public'' and women's as the ``private'' does not account for the roles both men and women played in creating the communities of antebellum New England. She believes that a third dimension she calls the ``social'' needs to be added. As an example, she cites the importance of visiting in the creation of the community. Visitors were frequently cited in diaries as providing opportunities to discuss current issues, work together, and help one another. Other aspects of antebellum life included in this study are friendship, gossip as an agent for controlling behavior, and the social aspects of church attendance. Hansen has made extensive use of diaries and correspondence in developing this study. Highly recommended for scholars and informed lay readers.-Linda McEwan, Elgin Community Coll., Ill. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
Library Journal, June 1994
Choice, November 1994
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Long Description
Karen Hansen's richly anecdotal narrative explores the textured community lives of New England's working women and men--both white and black--n the half century before the Civil War. Her use of diaries, letters, and autobiographies brings their voices to life, making this study an extraordinary combination of historical research and sociological interpretation. Hansen challenges conventional notions that women were largely relegated to a private realm and men to a public one. A third dimension--the social sphere--also existed and was a critical meeting ground for both genders. In the social worlds of love, livelihood, gossip, friendship, and mutual assistance, working people crossed ideological gender boundaries. The book's rare collection of original writings reinforces Hansen's arguments and also provides an intimate glimpse into antebellum New England life.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations and Tablesp. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Author's Notep. xv
Making the Social Central: An Introductionp. 1
"I Never Forget What I Remember": Delving into Antebellum New Englandp. 29
"Unbosom Your Heart": Friendship and the Construction of Genderp. 52
"Social Work": Visiting and the Creation of Communityp. 79
"True Opinion Clear of Polish": Gossip, Reputation, and the Community Juryp. 114
"Getting Religion": The Church as a Social Institutionp. 137
Conclusionp. 165
Sources of Evidencep. 171
Diarist Informationp. 183
Abbreviationsp. 187
Notesp. 189
Selected Bibliographyp. 239
Indexp. 257
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

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