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Title:An ethnography of black collegiate sprinters: A formal model of cultural identity and the identity complex
Author(s):Sands, Robert Russell
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Lehman, Frederic K.
Department / Program:Anthropology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Anthropology, Cultural
Education, Physical
Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies
Abstract:This is a formal study of social and cultural identity in a population of black collegiate sprinters. I combine the theoretical perspectives of cognitive science and sociocultural anthropology to propose a cognitive model of a system of social relations that will handle effectively the very complicated ways in which being black can figure in being a sprinter. On a methodological level, I propose that a form of ethnography, which I have labeled "experiential positivism" (intensive participant observation to the point where the participant observer can at least hope to possess some of a real participant's cognitive understandings and intuitions by which the activity is ordered), can generate the required kinds of empirical data for formulating and testing formalized models of social reality.
I suggest that ethnicity (formed by traditional factors such as common language, origins, religion or race), within the United States, is no longer defined independently of the rules that include people in social groups more generally; contemporary group affiliation into systems of social relations is expressed through an identity complex, consisting of social identities, i.e., positions in a social system, (see Keesing 1970), identity relationships and roles (rules that govern social behavior).
I describe the cultural reality (and knowledge) of collegiate sprinters, which is manifested in the order and arrangement of social identities, in a series of identity relationships, within a social network. During social interaction, social relations between ego and alter generate perceptions of identity based on an ideal representation in the context of actual performance behavior. I outline a model of social interaction (performance interaction) in which empirical data of the type needed for validation of the proposed model of social relations can be gathered. Interaction takes the form both of an informal interaction, which is less domain specific (off-track), and a series of highly formalized (specific to the context of running) competitive interactions (on-track). The identity of a sprinter is organized around representations (perceptions) of ego and alter of different behavioral factors, such as ability, performance, personality, background etc.; I suggest that the relevance of one's "race" is less of a determining factor than those related to sprinting.
Issue Date:1991
Rights Information:Copyright 1991 Sands, Robert Russell
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9210977
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9210977

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