Faithful to Fenway: Believing in Boston, Baseball, and America's Most Beloved Ballpark

By Michael Ian Borer | Go to book overview

APPENDIX
Making the Familiar Strange
Urban Sociology at the Ballpark

The city … sets problems of meaning. The streets, the people, the
buildings, and the changing scenes do not come already labeled. They
require explanation and interpretation.

—Anselm L. Strauss, sociologist/theorist1

I am convinced that part of the marginalization of social science in con-
temporary public debates relates precisely to our lost capacity for sto-
rytelling. It is up to the reader to judge how much further an under-
standing of this social space is advanced by these narratives and how
much might be distorted in their telling.

—Sherri Grasmuck, sociologist/ethnographer2

In 1956, the American Anthropologist published an article by Horace Miner about an “exotic” culture that was allegedly defined by its magical beliefs and practices. According to Miner, these men and women engaged in tortuous body rituals in front of their sacred charm boxes, each morning inserting “a small bundle of hog hairs into their mouth, along with magical powders, and then moving the bundle in a highly formalized series of gestures.”3 Writing as if he were describing an indigenous “primitive” tribe, Miner used his position as an anthropologist to deceive his readership, employing creative word play to disrupt

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