Life of the Party

Life of the Party

A Study in Sociability, Community, and Social Inequality

By Randle W. Nelsen


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From a family birthday celebration to football and NASCAR tailgates to the political protests of disenfranchised citizens, Life of the Party explores some of the social inequalities–class, race, and gender–that permeate the party atmosphere. Social unrest and dissatisfaction, as well as our continuous search for sociability and community, play an important part in the life of the party and illustrate the complicated interplay between social stability and social change.

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Nelsen’s book makes sociology come alive–makes it real–for my Introductory students and is an excellent companion volume to the more standard introductory texts. His readable style of writing and choice of entertaining topics combine to engage my students in finding out more about important social issues (the sources and outcomes of friendly sociability; the search for identity in community; the enduring conflicts and problems of social and economic inequality grounded in class, gender and ethnic-racial differences; and the role of protest in social change), encouraging them to explore in depth what the sociological imagination has to offer.

– Professor R. Brian McMillan, Department of Sociology, Lakehead University


Chapter 1 A Family Birthday Party: Working Class Meets Middle Class, Leaving Both in Stitches
Chapter 2 Football Tailgate Parties: Collegiate Tales of Community, Social Class, and Gender
Chapter 3 Tomboy Tools Parties: Corporate Business, Cozy Living Rooms, Gender Stereotypes, and Networking Pyramids
Chapter 4 Stadium Faith Parties: How Corporate Greed and Religion in Sports Creates an Architecture of Sociability Promoting Classist, Racist, and Sexist Divisions
Chapter 5 NASCAR Tailgate Parties:Amateur Hot-Rod Subculture and Working-Class Good Times
Chapter 6 Witch Hunts, Protest Parties, Occupiers, and the Politics of Playful Diversity