Jaber F. Gubrium

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Jaber F. Gubrium
Born Hull, Quebec, Canada
Nationality USA
Fields Sociology
Institutions University of Missouri
University of Florida
Marquette University

Jaber F. Gubrium (Jay Gubrium) is a sociologist and has been the Chair of the University of Missouri Department of Sociology since 2002. Before that, he was professor of sociology at the University of Florida (1987-2002) and at Marquette University (1970-1987). His areas of specialization are aging and health, care and everyday life, 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, 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). 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 and storytelling within the circumstances of their production.

Pragmatist in orientation, Gubrium is concerned with the practices of meaning-making in diverse circumstances of everyday life, 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 institutional context.

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 visiting professor at Lund University in Sweden 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; and 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 is Leiv Eiriksson Fellow and 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), "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 aging and the life course, the social organization of care, human service practice, qualitative methodology, ethnographic fieldwork, and narrative analysis. He also is the 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 in everyday practice, such as "narrative ethnography," "narrative environments," "scenic presence," "eventfulness," "biographical work," and "organizational embeddedness" (see Gubrium & Holstein 2009).