News

Posted by: Date: April 25, 2012 In: ,

Prominent sociologists visit PLU to discuss self-injury

Renowned sociologists Patricia and Peter Adler are scheduled to give a public lecture on self-injury from 6:30-7:30 p.m. May 7 in room 201 of Xavier Hall at PLU. The Adlers are prominent sociologists with decades of experience conducting in-depth studies of social groups including drug dealers, pre-adolescent cliques, resort workers, and collegiate athletes. PLU is one of only two northwest campuses they are visiting to share their research findings.

The Adlers’ lecture will be based on their most recent book, The Tender Cut: Inside the Hidden World of Self-Injury (New York University Press, 2011). The book is based on a decade of interview-based sociological research with hundreds of self-injurers – people who engage in the deliberate, non-suicidal destruction of their own body tissue, such as cutting, burning, branding, and bone-breaking. Their work uncovers how self-injury is a coping mechanism, a form of teenage angst, an expression of group membership, and a type of rebellion, converting unbearable emotional pain into manageable physical pain. The Adlers analyze this troubling behavior, point to its effects on current and former users, and predict its future as a practice for self-discovery or a cry for help.

Self-injury is a practice that spread dramatically in the late 1990s and early 2000s, largely due to the internet, where practitioners could find others engaged in the same behavior. Self-injury is most common among adolescents and college-aged young people and has begun receiving attention from the psychological community on par with the attention paid to eating disorders.

The Adlers’ work is the first to move beyond a psycho-medical analysis of self-injury to include social dimensions of how this behavior is carried out and influenced.

Patti Adler, Ph.D., is a professor of sociology at the University of Colorado, Boulder.  Peter Adler, Ph.D., is a professor of sociology at the University of Denver. Their interests include qualitative methods, deviant behavior, drugs and society, sociology of sport, sociology of children, social theory, work and occupations, and leisure. Together they are the co-authors and co-editors of numerous books and articles, including The Tender Cut, Peer Power, Paradise Laborers, Wheeling and Dealing, and Constructions of Deviance. The Adlers received the 2010 George Herbert Mead Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction.

The lecture is sponsored by the Department of Sociology and Social Work, with support from the Women’s and Gender Studies Program and Department of Psychology.

For more information contact the Department of Sociology and Social Work at (253) 535-7294.