Earlier this week I mentioned the work of rural sociologist Mary Grigsby, who is writing a book on catfish noodling, with the tentative title of Fishing for Collective Identity—The Intersection of Gender and Class in the Identity Work of Rural Men and Women Noodlers. Melinda Speece suggested that we devote an Audience Participation Friday to the subject of “Mary Grigsby-esque” sociology topics (rural or otherwise) that are important but overlooked. I think that’s a great idea.
So here’s your APF assignment. Give us the title of the sociological monograph that you want to see written, and give us a brief summary of its content. Here’s mine:
“Stepping On It: The Origins of NASCAR in Southern Popular Culture”
In the 1970s, the pop culture contributions of the Southern white male revolved around the idea of rapid–and frequently motorized–escape from trouble and/or commitment. In popular music (e.g., The Allman Brothers’ “Ramblin Man,” Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Gimme Three Steps,” “Freebird,” “They Call Me the Breeze,” or almost any other of their songs), on television (e.g., “The Dukes of Hazzard”), in the movies (e.g., “Smoky and the Bandit”) the Southern Male’s state of perpetual flight serves as a metaphor for his existential angst amidst the changing mores of American society in general and Southern society in particular. This rootlessness and existential unease reach their apotheosis in stock car racing: unmoored from the narrative of rising danger and rapid escape, speed becomes an end in itself, forever circling, never arriving.
How about you? What are the monographs you’ve been wanting to see?