Society for the Study of Social Problems

I have been a member of this for some years now. It is a very active society, much of which is in the symbolic interactionist tradition, going back to the early 1950s. The Society for the Study of Social Problems, as its name suggests, focuses on social problems. But it has a very specific and American starting point: the failure of the Great Society to establish itself. This, Europeans will remember, was announced by President Lyndon Baines Johnson, who succeeded the assassinated President John F. Kennedy in 1963. The Wikipedia entry for him is notable for its ambitious proposals for change:

“Johnson was greatly supported by the Democratic Party and as President, he was responsible for designing the “Great Society” legislation that included laws that upheld civil rightspublic broadcastingMedicareMedicaid, environmental protection, aid to education, aid to the arts, urban and rural development, and his “War on Poverty.” Assisted in part by a growing economy, the War on Poverty helped millions of Americans rise above the poverty line during Johnson’s presidency.[3] Civil rights bills signed by Johnson banned racial discrimination in public facilities, interstate commerce, the workplace, and housing, and a powerful voting rights act guaranteed full voting rights for citizens of all races. With the passage of the sweeping Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, the country’s immigration system was reformed and all national origins quotas were removed.”

And there are prominent US symbolic interactionists who do not know who Karl Polanyi is. Despite having similar social problems deriving from Reaganomics and Thatcherism, the US and British tend to see this from their own cultural perspectives.

I’ve been trying to find who wrote or said that the USA and Britain are two countries divided by a common language. Wikiquote seems the closest:  http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/English_language#British_vs._American_English

Obviously several others have noted this and even commented on it in one way or another: George Bernard Shaw, Bertrand Russell, Oscar Wilde and even Winston Churchill, all from the British Isles.

I have never managed to go to a symbolic interactionist conference, not since the National Deviancy Symposium held in York in 1969. Gary Alan Fine very kindly invited me to one a couple of years ago, but it was far too late, my health was just not up to the long journey abroad. I am at least able to write about ordoliberalism and Karl Polanyi and his successors.

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