Jaber F. Gubrium

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Jaber F. Gubrium
Born 1943
Gatineau, Canada
Nationality USA
Fields Sociology
Institutions University of Missouri, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, University of Florida, Marquette University

Jaber F. Gubrium (Jay Gubrium) is a sociologist and has been a professor in the University of Missouri Department of Sociology since 2002. He chaired the Department from 2002 to 2016. Before that, he was a professor of sociology at the University of Florida (1987-2002) and at Marquette University (1970-1987). He is currently a visiting professor in the College of Nursing at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Gubrium's areas of specialization are aging and health, care and everyday life, family discourse, human services ethnography, identity construction, social interaction, qualitative methods, and narrative analysis. He has developed a constructionist approach to the life course (see Gubrium, Holstein & Buckholdt 1994) and, with collaborator James Holstein, has formulated an analytic vocabulary for studying identity as an institutional formation (see Gubrium & Holstein 2001) and family as a category of experience (Gubrium & Holstein 1990). Eschewing zero-sum perspectives about the borders and influences of roles and identities, which can be glibly conclusive, the approach is methodically elaborated in relation to the complex practices of power in social interaction.

Gubrium continues to contribute to the development of qualitative methods by conceptualizing their theoretical bearings. Recent work has centered on the everyday practices of narrativity, locating stories, storytelling, and social forms within the circumstances of their production. The substantive aim is to locate and describe social forms (identity, family, aging, health, policy, service and care) within the practice of everyday life. Pragmatist in orientation, Gubrium is concerned with the practices of meaning-making in diverse circumstances, from ordinary encounters to going concerns such as residential treatment for problem children and aging in nursing homes. Theorizing methodology, he works reflexively at the border of ethnography and narrative analysis, combining these in new ways to deal with the perennial problems of linking observational data with transcripts of stories, speech, and other narrative material.

This has been applied in a long-standing program of research on the social organization of care and treatment in human service institutions. His research on the everyday practice of caregiving in nursing homes, originally described in his monograph "Living and Dying at Murray Manor," presents the lived details of care from the perspectives of the residents, the staff, and family members. Special attention has been paid to caregiving and the cognitively impaired in the context of broader cultural understandings, in particular how the Alzheimer's disease movement transformed the meaning of senility and the identities concerned, which was reported in his book "Oldtimers and Alzheimer's: The Descriptive Organization of Senility." The program of research has extended to institutional practices across the life course. Ethnographies of several institutional settings have set the basis for comparison. Earlier research on interpretive practices in a residential treatment center for emotionally disturbed children has been followed by ethnographic and narrative studies of accounting practices in physical rehabilitation, a psychiatric hospital, family counseling, and self-help groups for home caregivers. The program currently centers on narrative events (eventfulness) and strategic storytelling in everyday life, especially as these unfold in an institutional context, with particular attention to implications for social policy.

Professor Gubrium is a Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America. He was a Fulbright Scholar in 1996 at Tampere University, Finland and was Hallman Visiting Professor in 2007 at the University of Waterloo (Canada). He also was a visiting professor at Lund University in Sweden, where he was awarded an honorary doctorate in 2017 by the Faculty of Social Sciences, and at the University of Copenhagen and Odense University in Denmark. He has lectured at universities around the world, including the Universities of Toronto, Manitoba, Montreal, Victoria, Calgary, and Ottawa, and at Carlton, McMaster, and Queen's Universities in Canada; at Waseda and Kyoto Universities in Japan; at Lund, Uppsala, and Gothenburg Universities in Sweden; at the Open University and Goldsmiths'/London, Nottingham, Stirling, and Oxford Universities in the UK; at Konstanz University in Germany; at Tel-Aviv University in Israel; at Bergamo University in Italy; at St. Gallen's University in Switzerland; at the University of Oslo and Agder University College in Norway; at the Universities of Copenhagen, Aalborg, Aarhus, and Roskilde in Denmark, at the University of Helsinki in Finland; as well as numerous colleges and universities in the US, including UCLA, Southern California, Syracuse, University of Texas, Northwestern, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Penn State, Florida State, Iowa, Kansas, and Colorado College. During 2012-15, he was Leiv Eiriksson Fellow and a visiting professor at the Oslo University of Applied Sciences in Norway. He is married to Suzanne Kish Gubrium and they have two daughters, Aline Gubrium and Erika Gubrium.

Gubrium is the author or co-author of several books, including "Living and Dying at Murray Manor" (Gubrium 1997/1975), "Out of Control: Family Therapy and Domestic Disorder" (Gubrium 1992), "Speaking of Life" (Gubrium 1993), "Caretakers: Treating Emotionally Disturbed Children" (Buckholdt & Gubrium 1979), "Describing Care: Image and Practice Rehabilitation" (Gubrium & Buckholdt 1982), "Oldtimers and Alzheimer's: The Descriptive Organization of Senility" (Gubrium 1986), "What is Family? (1990), "The New Language of Qualitative Method" (Gubrium & Holstein 1997), "The Self We Live By: Narrative Identity in a Postmodern World" (Holstein & Gubrium 2000), and "Analyzing Narrative Reality" (Gubrium & Holstein 2009), as well as a number of edited collections and numerous articles on the structure of everyday life, aging and the life course, the social organization of care, human service practice, constructions of family, qualitative methodology, ethnographic fieldwork, and narrative analysis. His most recent co-edited books are "Turning Troubles into Problems: Clientization in Human Services" (2014) and "Reimagining the Human Service Relationship" (2016). He also is founding and current editor of the "Journal of Aging Studies."

Along with James A. Holstein, Gubrium is credited with introducing the concept of "the active interview" to the social science community (Holstein and Gubrium, 1995), as well as many sensitizing concepts for researching storytelling and other accounts in everyday life, such as "analytic bracketing," "interpretive practice," "narrative ethnography," "narrative environments," "scenic presence," "assemblages of meaning, "narrative eventfulness," "biographical work," "deprivatization," "institutional identity," "local enactment," and "organizational embeddedness" (see Gubrium & Holstein 2009). Put together, the concepts provide a working configuration of ideas and categories—an analytics—for making visible and documenting the everyday organization of experience in a fluid world of going concerns.