Fine, Gary Alan 1950-

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FINE, Gary Alan 1950-

PERSONAL: Born May 11, 1950, in New York, NY; son of Bernard David (a psychoanalyst) and Bernice Estelle (Tanz) Fine; married Susan Baker Hirsig (a manager), June 9, 1972; children: Todd David, Peter Gregory. Education: University of Pennsylvania, B.A., 1972; Harvard University, Ph.D., 1976.

ADDRESSES: Home—761 Linwood Ave., St. Paul, MN 55105. Office—Department of Sociology, Northwestern University, 1810 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, IL 60208.

CAREER: Boston College, Boston, MA, lecturer, 1974-75; University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, assistant professor, 1976-80, associate professor, 1980-85, became professor of sociology; faculty member, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL. Consultant to Yankelovich, Skelly, and White, New York, NY, 1979-80.

MEMBER: International Sociological Association, American Sociological Association, American Folklore Society, Association for the Study of Play (member of executive committee, 1983-85; president, 1985-86), Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction (vice president, 1982-83), Society for the Study of Social Problems.


(With Ralph Rosnow) Rumor and Gossip: The Social Psychology of Hearsay, Elsevier-North Holland (New York, NY), 1976.

Shared Fantasy: Role Playing Games As Social Worlds, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1983.

Talking Sociology, Allyn and Bacon (Boston, MA), 1985.

With the Boys: Little League Baseball and Preadolescent Culture, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1987.

(Editor) Meaningful Play, Playful Meaning, Human Kinetics Publishers (Champaign, IL), 1987.

(With Kent L. Sandstrom) Knowing Children: Participant Observation with Minors, Sage (Newberry Park, CA), 1988.

(Editor, with John Johnson and Harvey A. Farberman) Sociological Slices: Introductory Readings from the Interactionist Perspective, JAI Press (Greenwich, CT), 1992.

Manufacturing Tales: Sex and Money in Contemporary Legends, University of Tennessee Press (Knoxville, TN), 1992.

(Editor, with Karen Cook and James S. House) Sociological Perspectives on Social Psychology, Allyn and Bacon (Boston, MA), 1994.

(Editor, with Karen S. Cook and James S. House) Sociological Perspectives on Social Psychology, Allyn and Bacon (Boston, MA), 1995.

(Editor) A Second Chicago School?: The Development of a Postwar American Sociology, University of Chicago (Chicago, IL), 1995.

Kitchens: The Culture of Restaurant Work, University of California (Berkeley, CA), 1996.

Morel Tales: The Culture of Mushrooming, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1998.

(Editor, with Gregory W. H. Smith) Erving Goffman, Sage (Thousand Oaks, CA), 2000.

Difficult Reputations: Collective Memories of the Evil, Inept, and Controversial, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 2001.

Gifted Tongues: High School Debate and Adolescent Culture, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 2001.

(With Patricia A. Turner) Whispers on the Color Line: Rumor and Race in America, University of California (Berkeley, CA), 2001.

(With Daniel D. Martin and Kent L. Sandstrom) Symbols, Selves, and Social Life: A Symbolic Interactionist Approach, Roxbury (Los Angeles, CA), 2002.

Contributor to sociology journals. Editor, Symbolic Interaction, Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction, 1986-89.

SIDELIGHTS: American sociologist and scholar Gary Alan Fine has authored or edited more than a dozen books since publishing his debut work, Rumor and Gossip: The Social Psychology of Hearsay, in 1976. Many of Fine's books have been based on his academic research conducted at the University of Minnesota, where he began teaching sociology in 1976. One such book is his 1996 effort, Kitchens: The Culture of Restaurant Work. The book was the result of a four-month period that Fine spent studying the work and behavior of cooks in four different restaurants during the mid-1980s. Written from a cook's point of view, the book examines the difficulties that food preparers confront in the workplace, including having to labor in hot, confining conditions. "Consider the life of the cook, who faces enormous challenges, toiling in an environment less pastoral than infernal," Fine wrote in the book. Fine also discussed the age-old conflicts cooks often have with picky patrons, as well as with the waitstaff. Despite the troubles of the job, Fine believes that bonds of communality and friendship develop among well-run kitchen staffs.

Several literary critics lauded Kitchens, including Bonalyn J. Nelson, who reviewed it for Administrative Science Quarterly. Calling the work "well written and carefully documented," Nelson was impressed with the lengths Fine went to immerse himself in the life of a cook. "The careful presentation of both mundane and more profound aspects of this work leaves little doubt that Fine is intimately acquainted with the hectic, heated, and often humorous world of professional cooks," Nelson wrote. "This researcher has done his homework." David Farkas of the periodical Restaurant Hospitality also recommended the book, especially to people in the restaurant industry. "Anyone who owns or manages restaurants will be doing themselves a favor by reading this book," Farkas wrote.

A more recent work by Fine is his 2001 effort, Whispers on the Color Line: Rumor and Race in America, which he co-authored with Patricia A. Turner, a scholar of African-American studies. The book, which critic Donna Bell-Russel of Library Journal called "fascinating," examines the effect urban legends have on race relations in the United States. According to the authors, urban legend myths can have a profound effect on these relations, which in turn affect the way the legends themselves change over time among different ethnic groups. Fine and Turner describe the origins of these harmful urban legends and how they shape opinions. Bell-Russel went on to call Whispers on the Color Line "an important and useful book."

Fine once told CA: "My central research and writing focus is on the relationship between culture and social culture. This interest informs all of my writing from my study of Little League baseball to that of rumor to that of fantasy games. The question I ask is how is expressive culture shaped by the social system in which we all live and how does this social system affect the culture that we create and that we participate in. I examine the way in which small groups affect and give meaning to our shared experiences."



Fine, Gary Alan, Kitchens: The Culture of Restaurant Work, University of California (Berkeley), 1996.


Administrative Science Quarterly, March, 1999, pp. 197-199.

Library Journal, October 1, 2001, p. 131.

Restaurant Hospitality, April, 1996, p. 50.*