True, man is a social animal, but -- in this age of rampant attention-getting and "ego-surfing" (scanning the Internet for occurrences of one's own name) -- perhaps aggressively or competitively social would be a better description. This useful and popular volume, now in a second edition that features major new introductory and concluding essays, entertainingly ponders this proposition. Charles Derber argues that there is a general Lack of social support in today's America, one which causes people to vie hungrily for attention. Little wonder, then, that we should so often employ various techniques to turn the course of a given conversation back to ourselves. Illustrating "conversational narcissism" with sample dialogues that will seem disturbingly familiar to all readers, this book analyzes the pursuit of attention in conversation -- as well as in politics and celebrity culture -- and demonstrates the ultimate importance of gender, class, and racial differences in competing for attention. The Pursuit of Attention has been significantly reconsidered and rewritten to reflect just how self-involved we have become (and are still becoming).
Charles Derber is professor in the Department of Sociology at Boston College. Yale R. Magrass is Chancellor professor in the Department of Sociology/Anthropology at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth.