Danny Kaplan- Research projects

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National Solidarity and Social Club Sociability

This project explores how interpersonal interactions in a variety of social institutions contribute to the social glue of mass society, not because they promote civic engagement or democracy but because they enact the sacred promise of friendship. Building on both Simmel’s relational approach and Durkheimian accounts of collective effervescence I have developed a research strategy for studying institutional sociability based on an analytic distinction between “public intimacy” and “collective intimacy.” The former refers to interpersonal ties displayed in public, at once excluding and seducing spectators to become participants. The latter designates a form of sociability collectively shared by the public growing out of shared feelings of complicity.

I’m conducting a long-term research program examining patterns of sociability in a variety of (broadly defined) “social clubs,” including Freemasonry, commemoration for missing soldiers, music radio broadcasting, reality television show, public intimacy on Facebook. Each institution exemplifies different modes of participation in the public sphere yet all negotiate modes of civic cooperation by occasioning encounters between strangers. Part of this project is to appear in a forthcoming book Nation as Social Club: Building Solidarity through Sociability. 

Parenting as Engineering

Despite the centrality of the therapeutic discourse in postindustrial societies there is limited analysis of its role in lay understanding of parenting. Drawing on several studies of parenting in Israel this project sets out to delineate an emerging folk model of “parenting as engineering,” which construes parental caregiving as a gender-neutral form of lay expertise in emotion management. This model is salient in the experience of fathers, often viewed as lacking “natural” maternal competence and more dependent on deliberate acquisition of paternal competence. A cultural shift toward parenting as expertise is reinforced by the entry of men into childcare and the rise of new family forms that require a more active social construction of parenting roles.