Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Hill, Michael R. 1991. Review of Becoming Mature: Childhood Ghosts and Spirits in Adult Life, by Valerie Malhotra Bentz. Contemporary Sociology 20 (4): 627-628.


Copyright 1991 Michael R. Hill


Bentz's work will appeal to many sociologists, including those with interests in contemporary theory, family studies, clinical sociology, and research methodologies. This useful and intellectually stimulating volume appears in the Communications and Social Order series, edited by David Maines. Peter Manning provides the foreword (pp. xiii-xvi).

Bentz builds on an impressive foundation of classical and contemporary theorists, including George Herbert Mead, Martin Heidegger, Edmund Husserl, Sigmund Freud, Alfred Schutz, Jiirgen Haberrnas, and Norman Denzin. Some readers will be outraged by Bentz's conscious joining of symbolic interactionist concepts with ideas from psychoanalytic traditions. But readers who admire Haberrnas' recent transformations of Mead will cheer Bentz's effort and applaud her deep empirical investigations of Habermasian themes. Bentz places her topic, maturation, in the center of current sociological theory debates. She attempts to move beyond existing theory boundaries, and concludes, "I realized that the theoretical boundaries of Schutz, Mead, and Habermas, as in-depth and broad as they were, did not in any sense cover many of the important aspects of the processes of becoming mature" (p. 75). True. In a book analyzing the experiences of women, however, I expected incorporation of theoretical insights offered by Jane Addams and Jessie Taft.