Reframing Sociological Concepts for a Brave New (Virtual?) World*

Authors

  • Karen A. Cerulo

    1. Is associate professor of sociology at Rutgers University and the associate director of the Center for Social Research and Instruction. Her research interests include symbol systems, identity construction, and communication technologies. Professor Cerulo's articles appear in a wide variety of journals and annuals, including the Annual Review of Sociology, American Sociological Review, Social Forces, Sociological Forum, Sociological Focus, and Communication Research. She is also the author of Identity Designs: The Sights and Sounds of a Nation (Rose Book Series of the ASA, Rutgers University Press), the 1996 winner of the ASA Culture Section's Best Book Award, and Deciphering Violence: The Cognitive Order of Right and Wrong (forthcoming: Routledge, Chapman, and Hall), and is the co-author of Second Thoughts: Conventional Wisdom Through the Sociological Eye (Pine Forgelsage).
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    Special thanks to Janet M. Ruane for her useful feedback on earlier drafts of this work. Thanks also to Shawna Hudson for her enormous help with clerical tasks

Abstract

The articles that make up this Sociological Inquiry feature emerged from the 1995 meetings of the American Sociological Association. The authors included in this issue were expressly solicited for a special session on “Technologically Generated Communities.” The authors were asked to individually provide their own perspectives on the intersection of technology, community, and social action. My essay attempts to crystallize several key changes that the new communication technologies demand of conceptual frames long embraced by sociologists. In particular, the pages that follow propose some necessary adjustments to the ways in which sociologists formulate and apply three key analytic concepts: social interaction, social bonding, and empirical experience.

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