"My God, what am i gonna say?": Class reunions as social control

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Autobiographical occasions are perceived as an opportunity to constitute an identity, to lay claim to one's own life, to the right to tell one's own story. Using high school class reunions as a case study, largue that those social moments that require accounts of one's life also generate a major threat to the identities constructed, by constituting an informal process of social control. The requirement to narrate one's life story and cope with its limits is a force through which the social order is confirmed and one's identity within that order defined and assigned. While reunions create a community and an opportunity to speak up, they generate at the same time classification, hierarchy, and evaluation processes that might not otherwise appear in modern society.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)57-75
Number of pages19
JournalQualitative Sociology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2000


  • Autobiography
  • Reunions
  • Social control


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