The Practice of Folklore
Essays toward a Theory of Tradition

By Simon J. Bronner

384 pages (approx.), 6 x 9 inches, 19 b&w illustrations, 12 charts and graphs

9781496822628 Printed casebinding $99.00S

9781496822635 Paper $35.00S

Printed casebinding, $99.00

Paper, $35.00

A magnum opus from a preeminent folklore scholar on cultural practice and why people need tradition

Despite predictions that commercial mass culture would displace customs of the past, traditions firmly abound, often characterized as folklore. In The Practice of Folklore: Essays toward a Theory of Tradition, author Simon J. Bronner works with theories of cultural practice to explain the social and psychological need for tradition in everyday life.

Bronner proposes a distinctive "praxic" perspective that will answer the pressing philosophical as well as psychological question of why people enjoy repeating themselves. The significance of the keyword practice, he asserts, is the embodiment of a tension between repetition and variation in human behavior. Thinking with practice, particularly in a digital world, forces redefinitions of folklore and a reorientation toward interpreting everyday life. More than performance or enactment in social theory, practice connects localized culture with the vernacular idea that "this is the way we do things around here." Practice refers to the way those things are analyzed as part of, rather than apart from, theory, thus inviting the study of studying. "The way we do things" invokes the social basis of "doing" in practice as cultural and instrumental.

Bronner presents an overview of practice theory and the ways it might be used in folklore and folklife studies. He offers four provocative case studies of psychocultural meanings that arise from traditional frames of action and address issues of our times: referring to the boogieman; connecting "wild child" beliefs to school shootings; deciphering the offensive chants of sports fans; and explicating male bravado in bawdy singing.

SIMON J. BRONNER is Distinguished University Professor of American Studies and Folklore Emeritus at Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg, and Maxwell C. Weiner Visiting Distinguished Professor of Humanities at Missouri University of Science and Technology. He is author or editor of over forty books including Campus Traditions: Folklore from the Old-Time College to the Modern Mega-University, published by University Press of Mississippi.

384 pages (approx.), 6 x 9 inches, 19 b&w illustrations, 12 charts and graphs