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Sociologist to Give Talk on the Study of Self

(Posted March 16, 2009)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Sociologists often study groups of people or entire cultures to gain insight into the world as a whole. Daniel Welliver, assistant professor of sociology at Juniata College, turns that wide beam of examination inward toward himself in the lecture "Social Science or Narcissistic Navel-Gazing?" at 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 24 in Neff Lecture Hall in the von Liebig Center for Science.

The lecture is free and open to the public. The Bookend Seminar series features afternoon lectures each month by Juniata College faculty.

Welliver will explain how he used autoethnography, or the study of oneself as a part of human culture, to better understand how his character was formed. The prefix "auto" in autoethnography is like the "auto" in autobiography. It means that Welliver is studying and writing about himself. He is both the researcher and the researched. The "ethnography" in autoethnography means that Welliver is examining his life within broader social and cultural contexts, such as social groups, organizations, communities and society.. Welliver based his talk on his doctoral dissertation, titled "The Quest for White, Privilege-Cognizant, Antiracist Character: An Autoethnographic Inquiry."

Welliver also will discuss what he calls a "healthy debate" among scholars concerning the legitimacy of autoethnography as a genre of social science research.

Welliver joined the Juniata faculty in 2006 after a long career in the private sector and state government. He earned bachelor's degree in sociology in 1979 from Juniata College and went on to earn a master's degree in community psychology in 1990 from Penn State University, and is finishing his doctoral studies at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Welliver's previous job was as director of education and community services and coordinator of the Pennsylvania Inter-agency Task Force on Civil Tension at the Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission, a post he held from 1998 to 2006. He was executive director of the Neighborhood Center of the United Methodist Church in Harrisburg, Pa. from 1988 to 1998. He also worked as a researcher and statistician for the Harrisburg Fair Housing Council from 1987 to 1988.

Welliver began his professional career in Huntingdon, Pa. as a family day care home coordinator for Huntingdon County Child development, a local social services agency.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.