Dr. Ben Merriman is one of four finalists for a research prize from the British Sociological Association for a paper he published in Cultural Sociology. The paper, "Duels in the European Novel: Honor, Reputation, and the Limits of a Bourgeois Form," is being considered for the SAGE Prize for Innovation/ Excellence in the cultural sociology category. Here's the paper abstract:
"The emergence of market society in Europe prompted a major change in the social measurement of individual worth. The formal system of aristocratic honor culture was gradually supplanted by a bourgeois concept of reputation rooted in the public perception of individual merits. During this period, dueling was a practice of dispute resolution commonly used in honor groups, and also diffused to bourgeois groups in domains such as politics and journalism. This article explores this cultural transformation by examining duels in 20 European novels and comparing these duels with theoretical and historical work on duels as a social practice. The novels present a significantly distorted representation of dueling. This distortion demonstrates the limited ability of the novel, a bourgeois form, to describe group-oriented values such as honor. This is, in turn, sociologically significant: the novels point to major differences in the social psychologies underpinning honor and reputation, and also anticipate the obsolescence of honor culture well before this occurred historically."