Jim Henslin was born in Minnesota, graduated from high school and junior college in California and from college in Indiana. Awarded scholarships, he earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in sociology at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. After this, he won a postdoctoral fellowship from the National Institute of Mental Health and spent a year studying how people adjust to the suicide of a family member. His primary interests in sociology are the sociology of everyday life, deviance, and international relations. Among his many books are Down-to-Earth Sociology: Introductory Readings and Social Problems, now in its 12th edition. He has also published widely in sociology journals, including Social Problems and American Journal of Sociology.
While a graduate student, Jim taught at the University of Missouri at St. Louis. After completing his doctorate, he joined the faculty at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, where he is Professor Emeritus of Sociology. He says, “I’ve always found the introductory course enjoyable to teach. I love to see students’ faces light up when they first glimpse the sociological perspective and begin to see how society has become an essential part of how they view the world.”
Jim enjoys reading and fishing, and he also does a bit of kayaking and weight lifting. His two favorite activities are writing and traveling. He especially enjoys visiting and living in other cultures, for this brings him face to face with behaviors and ways of thinking that challenge his perspectives and “make sociological principles come alive.” A special pleasure has been the preparation of Through the Author’s Lens, the series of photo essays that appear in this text.
Jim moved to Latvia, an Eastern European country formerly dominated by the Soviet Union, where he had the experience of becoming an immigrant. There he observed firsthand how people struggle to adjust to capitalism. While there, he interviewed aged political prisoners who had survived the Soviet gulag. He then moved to Spain, where he was able to observe how people adjust to a declining economy and the immigration of people from contrasting cultures. (Of course, for this he didn’t need to leave the United States.) To better round out his cultural experiences, Jim recently visited South Korea, Vietnam, and again India. He hopes to travel extensively in South America, where he expects to do more photo essays to reflect their fascinating cultures. Jim is grateful to be able to live in such exciting social, technological, and geopolitical times — and to have access to portable broadband Internet while he pursues his sociological imagination.
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