Ways of Telling About Society. Howard S. Becker in Conversation With Reiner Keller


  • Howard S. Becker
  • Reiner Keller Universität Augsburg




Chicago sociology, field work, photography, performance, art, labeling theory, methodology, doing things together, social worlds, symbolic interactionism, case design


In the following conversation, Howard S. BECKER talks about his lifelong travel with and between sociology and jazz music, his professional training as a sociologist, the hazards of a career, and his involvement with photography and performance. He reflects on the different ways used by artists and sociologists to tell solid stories about social phenomena, and tells a compelling account in its own right about the methodology of sound sociological field work and case study research. By explaining core concepts of his sociological perspective (such as the concept of labeling and "doing things together") and referring to concrete research examples, BECKER in all modesty fully engages with what could be called today's sociological imagination, leaving narrow disciplinary constraints behind in order to explore society with curiosity, using methodologically sensible but nevertheless refreshing approaches.

The audio file is accessible from http://dx.doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.49829.

URN: http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs1602122


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Author Biographies

Howard S. Becker

Howard S. BECKER, born in Chicago in 1928, studied sociology at the University of Chicago where he received his PhD in 1951. After working as lecturer at Chicago University, as research fellow at the University of Illinois, as project director at Community Studies Inc. (Kansas City) and as research associate at Stanford University, he became professor of sociology at Northwestern University, Evanston (north of Chicago) in 1965. In 1991 he moved to the University of Washington (Seattle) and in 1999 to the University of California, Santa Barbara. His areas of work include sociology of deviance, sociology of professions, sociology of art worlds, sociology of (jazz) music and methodology of sociological research.

Reiner Keller, Universität Augsburg

Reiner KELLER, born in 1962 near Saarbrücken (Germany), studied sociology at the universities of Saarbrücken, Rennes (France) and Bamberg (Germany). He received a PhD in sociology in 1997 at Munich Technical University [TU Munich], and accomplished his habilitation in 2004 on "The Sociology of Knowledge Approach to Discourse. A Research Program" at Augsburg University. From October 2006 to September 2011 he was professor of sociology at Koblenz-Landau University. Since October 2011, he is professor of sociology at Augsburg University. Currently, he is chair of the Sociology of Knowledge Section and member of the executive board of the German Sociological Association. His research centers on knowledge and culture, discourse studies, sociological theory, pragmatist sociology, risk and environment, and French sociology.




How to Cite

Becker, H. S., & Keller, R. (2016). Ways of Telling About Society. Howard S. Becker in Conversation With Reiner Keller. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 17(2). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-17.2.2607



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