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  • Photo Courtesy of Getty
  • Transcript

    • 1. The Challenge of Sensitive Research: Grief, Roadside Memorials, and Community Art Jipson, PhD. University of Dayton, CJS Program
    • 2. Some Key Terms
      • Sociology
      • Criminology
      • Qualitative Research
      • Social Deviance
      • Community
      • Social Reaction
      • Roadside Memorials
    • 3. Thank you for opportunity to discuss this research
      • Project 1999 to present
      • I became interested in
      • the symbolic, emotional, social, and criminological aspect of memorials because they were becoming more common.
    • 4. Sociological Perspective
      • Before talking about Roadside Memorials in the United States, we need to understand how my fields of sociology and criminology study:
      • 1. Social Deviance
      • 2. Community
    • 5. What Is Social Deviance?
      • Social deviance is any transgression of socially established norms.
        • A transgression is defined as rule breaking
        • Minor transgressions = informal deviance .
        • Formal deviance or crime involves the violation of laws.
    • 6. Rule Following and Rule Breaking
      • "Deviance" is a wide-ranging term used by sociologists to refer to behavior that varies from a social norm.
        • A norm is a guideline for acceptable behavior.
      • In this respect, it is evident that the concept of deviance refers to some form of "rule-breaking" behavior.
    • 7. Variation of Rule Breaking
      • Deviance relates to all forms of rule-breaking.
      • Sociologists and Criminologists in the United States want to understand rule breaking.
        • We want to understand the effect on the community.
    • 8. What is social control?
      • Sociologists study Social control
        • Social control is defined by a set of mechanisms that create the reasons that people follow the rules.
      • Normative compliance is defined by learning and following societal norms or following the rules of group life.
    • 9. What is social control?
      • Formal sanctions are defined as the corrections and punishments imposed by political and legal systems.
        • Laws, law enforcement, court system, prisons
      • Informal sanctions:
        • rules and expectations about behavior
        • May be unspoken, generally understood
        • maintain order and cohesion in society
        • provide foundation for formal social control
        • Are, for example, laws, the authority of police officers, etc.
    • 10. Deviance is a Social Reaction
      • Howard Becker, an important Sociologists and Criminologist defined deviant behavior as the reaction of others to that behavior.
      • Sociologists and Criminologists explain human behavior in terms of the interactions and reactions we have to behavior.
    • 11. Defining Community
      • Now, we need to think about how sociologists and criminologists define community.
    • 12.
      • There has been much of discussion by social scientists about how to define community. We can ask: who defines community?
      • Should the people who belong (or might belong) to a community decide what it is and what it represents?
      • Or should social scientists and professionals decide who is part of a community?
      Who defines community?
    • 13.
      • What is community?
        • People in any society use the word ‘community’ when talking about their neighbors, their friends, entire racial groups, international politics, national identity groups, and more.
        • But have we have stopped to think about what community really is and what it means to us personally to be members of the community ?
      Community is a word
    • 14.
      • When we think about communities most people think about a particular place, a geographical location for the community, such as Nanjing or the Nanjing University of Science and Technology Community.
      • A geographical community can be a town, a suburb, or even a small section such as a neighborhood. There might be a few communities in the same town.
      • There are other times when a town might be only part of a community, such as when the community involves the rural areas outside town, or two towns are closely linked.
      The Centrality of Place
    • 15.
      • Do you think community is a thing? a system? a process? a place?
        • By system I mean an interconnected set of parts which are capable of acting as a whole. By process I mean that it has an observable operation or action.
        • We can ask: is community a thing which exists apart from us? Or is it something that we are part of? Or is it something that we do together?
      What is a community?
    • 16.
      • According to Anthony Cohen, when we use the word ‘community’, what we are doing is establishing a symbolic boundary around a category of people.
        • We are using language to mark a difference between people inside and those outside the ‘community’ .
        • Cohen suggests the word is used loosely to imply that community is:
        • A group or category of people, who have something in common with each other, which distinguishes them in a significant way from other groups.
      Sociological View of Community
    • 17.
      • Community implies those inside are similar to each other and different from others.
        • It creates a bond between some people and excludes others.
          • Attachment
          • Involvement
          • Commitment
          • Belief
        • Thus community implies and creates a boundary between us and them, inside a group and outside a group.
      We are connected
    • 18.
      • This boundary of community is marked in symbolic ways.
        • There are many types of symbol which mark the boundaries of community - flags, badges, colors, dances, languages and more.
          • The point is that we are creating distinctions
      Symbols and Boundaries
    • 19.
      • Symbols (including symbolic words) always carry a range of meanings whose differences can be negotiated.
        • So, it is possible to share the symbols without sharing the meanings.
      The use of symbols is important
    • 20. Researching Memorials
      • Now that we have discussed community and social deviance, we will talk about Roadside Memorials and how these views help us understand them.
    • 21. Roadside Memorials Project
      • The project has focused on understanding the reasons that led some people to erect a commemoration to a loved one or a friend who died as a result of an automobile accident.
      • The research has taken multiple tracks:
      • (1) Interviewing erectors of memorials,
      • (2) individuals who are connected to the memorials,
      • (3) content analysis of written material on roadside and other memorials,
      • (4) and collection and analysis of data on the laws in the fifty states.
    • 22. Research Challenges
      • Data Collection was a critical issue for this project
        • Snowball sampling techniques
        • Newsprint, Internet, recruitment letters left at memorial sites
        • Sensitivity was a concern
        • Community issues
        • Informed consent and data collection
    • 23. Visual Research Component
      • Digital Photography of Memorials
      • Video of Memorials
      • Interview process of review of memorial images and symbols with the erectors of the memorial
    • 24. Selected Interview Data I have interviewed 409 individuals involved in 219 Memorials (not all are listed below due to confidentiality requirements)
      • Midwest:
      • Ohio (78)
      • Kentucky (45)
      • West Virginia (15)
      • Pennsylvania (14)
      • Illinois (13)
      • Indiana (16)
      • Minnesota (3)
      • Iowa (2)
      • South:
      • North Carolina (24)
      • South Carolina (15)
      • Georgia (21)
      • Tennessee (16)
      • Arkansas (2)
      • East:
      • Massachusetts (8)
      • Delaware (5)
      • Massachusetts (7)
    • 25. Demographics of Erectors
      • Race 70% white, 20% African-American, 10% Hispanic or Mexican-American
        • Project was focused along roadways outside of metro areas
      • Kinship 95% family members, 5% friends or others
        • Most erectors are family
      • Gender 80% erected by women/ 20% erected by men
        • 60% were mothers, sisters, wives
      • Class 70% of erectors earn less than $120,000 annually
        • Most erectors were in the middle class
    • 26. Content Analysis
      • I have also conducted content analysis on over 137 newspaper and print articles, television and radio programs, and letters to the editors written on roadside memorials.
      • This analysis has helped contextualize roadside memorials in the local and national consciousness.
      • In addition, I have also reviewed the scholarly literature in literature, criminology, popular culture, cultural geography, and sociology on roadside memorials and other forms of spontaneous public commemoration.
    • 27. Little written on Roadside Memorials
      • Little scholarly work has focused on roadside memorials.
      • Instead research has focused on well-known large projects such as sanctioned historical markers or approved grieving spaces (such as national cemeteries)
    • 28. Why erect a Roadside Memorial?
      • Grief
      • Private Marker
      • Public Service
        • Public Marker
        • Warning about danger
        • Slow Down
    • 29. Other Markers
      • In all of my interviews, the roadside memorial is an addition to a conventional gravestone.
      • It does not replace a gravestone in a cemetery or appropriate mourning site.
    • 30. The Memorial is Powerful
      • For every single person involved in putting up a memorial that I have interviewed, all of them stated that the roadside memorial was more meaningful to them than a gravestone in a cemetery.
    • 31. Massachusetts Memorial
    • 32. Owensboro, KY Memorial
    • 33. SR 127 Ohio
    • 34. SR 127 Ohio
    • 35. Massachusetts Memorial 2
    • 36. Massachusetts Memorial 3
    • 37. MA Memorial 3, note the car part
    • 38. MA Memorial 3, note the objects
    • 39. MA Memorial 3, long shot
    • 40. Massachusetts Memorial 6
    • 41.  
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    • 47.  
    • 48.  
    • 49.  
    • 50.  
    • 51.  
    • 52. Common Themes
      • Symbolism (mostly crosses)
      • Names
      • Dates
      • Flowers (plastic and real)
      • Personal notes, mementos,
      • pictures
      • Personal items of the deceased
      • Use of color
    • 53.  
    • 54. Touchstone
      • “ She was so much more than a mere name in a newspaper. She was my sister and I loved her and I want everyone to know that she was here and she made a difference in people’s lives while she was here.”
    • 55. No Boundaries
      • “ My grief knows no bounds… no road, no highway, no grassy field can separate me from where my son took his last breath. It is my hope that his memorial will make the road safer.”
    • 56. Civic Engagement and Public Concern
      • “ Her memorial represents life and death and how quickly we can move from one to the other.”
      • “ We… I… had to do this. I was CALLED to put it up. People need… and still need to know… that he as here. That he mattered to us. And this could happen to anyone.”
    • 57. Different Countries, States, Cities - All have different Laws
      • State and local governments have responded differently to roadside memorials.
      • The state of West Virginia, for example has explicit legislation meant to regulate the size and placement of these memorials in its borders.
      • Other states, such as Ohio, view roadside memorials as a hindrance to travel and therefore consider them illegal.
    • 58. Rights
      • Not all states have legislation that directly applies to roadside memorials.
      • However the erectors of memorials speak about their rights…
        • “ The memorial takes nothing away from anybody else, nothing at all… I have the right to do this.”
    • 59. Removal and Memorials
      • As I began interviewing individuals and family members who put up roadside memorials it became increasingly apparent that county and local law enforcement are often unwilling to remove a memorial out of respect to the grieving parties.
        • There is an unstated agreement that there is a right to place a memorial…
    • 60. Law Enforcement and Removal
      • Removal happens infrequently even if there is some vocal opposition in the community and even in some circumstance where some in a community consider it a distraction (and a distracting commemoration would be illegal in all states)
      • Law enforcement does not want to appear to be insensitive to the feelings of the bereaved.
    • 61. What do we learn by studying Roadside Memorials?
      • Social cohesion: social bonds, relationships, societal functioning are shaped by the placement of memorials.
      • Social Deviance: may be relative.
      • Community cohesion is established through solidarity and that solidarity can be represented in many different ways.
    • 62. The Meaning of Memorials
      • Yes, Roadside Memorials are a type of Social Reaction and Social Deviance in the communities where they are placed.
      • A significant aspect of these memorials is the reaction of others to memorials being placed in the community.
    • 63. Thank you for Listening.
      • Any questions?
      • Please feel free to contact me.
      • Art Jipson
      • Sociology and
      • Criminal Justice Studies
      • University of Dayton
      • 300 College Park
      • Dayton, Ohio 45469
      • [email_address]