Publication details [#11594]

Zerubavel, Eviatar. 1991. The Fine Line: Making Distinctions in Everyday Life. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. 205 pp.
Publication type
Book – monograph
Publication language


People carve reality into discrete mental slices, "islands of meaning"; they categorize, classify and label. This tendency, according to Zerubavel, can lead to the rigid mind that detests ambiguity. Stereotypes are born as the rigid mind lumps together "the poor" or "Orientals." In an original look at the way we compartmentalize reality, the author, a Rutgers sociology professor, uses fundamental insights into humans' boundary-drawing habits to illumine the sense of self, taboos, xenophobia, aversion to bodily discharges, sex, daily rituals, the need for privacy, humor and modern art's blurring of the distinction between art and life. Without using jargon, he crams in a wealth of phenomena, from wedding ceremonies to children's oceanic, fluid mindset which he places on a continuum with mythical thought and psychosis. Readers will edge closer toward attaining a "flexible mind" that avoids freezing reality into any one mental context. (Publishers Weekly, Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.)