I sat down with Dr. Joanna Gregson and Dr. Jen Lois, two professors of sociology who are doing a years-long study of the sociology of the romance writing community. I attended their session at RWA and tweeted the pants off it (you can read the Storify collection of tweets if you’d like to learn more about their research and data). Later I begged for a few minutes so I could interview them further.
We talk about about their research, the things they’ve learned about the romance community and the patterns of behavior they identified as they gathered data. We also discuss whether romance is feminist, which led to discussion of valued work and devalued work, plus maternity leave policies in the US vs. other nations. It’s a fascinating discussion, and I hope you enjoy it.
Some of the terms we mention come form their presentation and I wanted to make sure I defined them so you knew what we meant:
Altercasting: You can read the Wiki definition, but for more details, I asked Prof. Jen Lois for some help with this definition. She wrote: “Altercasting refers to an interactional dynamic where you try to cast the other (“alter”) into a specific role or identity. It can be intentional or ignorant, explicit or implicit, but it basically amounts to “offering” a role to someone else during an interaction. We found that those outside the romance community tried to confer a shame-deficient identity on writers because of the sexual content of their work–in other words, outsiders altercast writers as sexually ‘shameless.'”
Prof. Gregson adds, “An example often used in Soc 101 textbooks is when parents say to children ‘I know you can be a big girl when we go to the doctor (or wherever)'; they don’t actually know that, they’re just hoping to convince the kid that they can be that person because that’s who they (the parent) want them to be.”
Contagion of stigma is another term I was unfamiliar with, though now that I know what it is I have seen it live and in person in so many forms. Prof. Joanna Gregson explains it as “the idea that we not only stigmatize deviants, we also stigmatize those who interact with or are otherwise associated with them. It’s like being guilty by association.”
Here are some of the books we discuss in this podcast:
And here are their published books:
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Thanks for listening – hope you enjoy!