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Identity, Becoming and Shoes Jenny Hockey and Victoria Robinson University of Sheffield.

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1 Identity, Becoming and Shoes Jenny Hockey and Victoria Robinson University of Sheffield

2 selfhood does not stop at the skin … it always begins – literally or figuratively – from the body. There is nowhere else to begin (Jenkins 2004:46).

3 the body is most profitably conceptualised as an unfinished biological and social phenomenon which is transformed, within certain limits, by virtue of its entry into, and participation in, society (Shilling 1993:12).

4 Shoes in contemporary culture

5 What is it in our culture that has led to this fascination? (Benstock and Ferris 2001:2) the relationship between women and shoes is magical: they can completely change the way a woman feels (Brian Atwood). Shoes turn you into someone else (Natacha Morro). shoes have moved centre-stage in fashion and have grown much faster than clothing in the last five years; they are no longer seen as a clothing essential to be bought on a replacement basis only (Mintel Reports, August, 2007). 25% of British women would buy shoes before paying bills (Harpers Bazaar survey 2006)


7 Folklore and contemporary culture





12 The clothing of the dead hint at something only half understood, sinister, threatening, the atrophy of the body, and the evanescence of life (Wilson 1985:1).

13 when she died my daughter I went to the care home to clear the room. We had to choose her clothes for the coffin and the outfit we chose was smart – but still glamorous. We looked at the shoes in the wardrobe and agreed that Nana could not be seen dead in them! In a large department store, we found just the right ones – they were extremely elegant, not too high, looked expensive (indeed they were) and something she could wear to a dance. We declined offers of trying them on and giggled about how - as long as they were big enough – it didnt matter. The shop assistant seemed puzzled by our state and we did not feel the need to explain. Buying the shoes gave us a real sense of achievement as if we had done something really important that we knew she would have loved. Writing this has made me feel terribly sad, I think because she could not see for herself that we would not let her leave without being properly turned out (Pauline 61).

14 life course categories (baby to toddler, single to married); activities (work to leisure); health and illness (orthopaedic shoes); gendered identities (from man to woman); social classes (from white stiletto to Sloan loafer); everyday and specialist competencies (mother to runner); lay and professional identities (the funeral directors shiny black shoes); the mundane and the magical (schoolgirl to disco diva).

15 memory serves as both a phenomenological ground of identity … and the means for explicit identity construction (Antze and Lambek 1996:xvi). … grow old, and may become worn and tattered along the life span of its owner … (they) anchor the owner to a particular time and place (Hoskins 1998:8).

16 when you look at them you can see him kicking up the leaves – a happy little body. He was there and then three days later he was gone (Grace 83)

17 Project student Representations of shoes in folklore, popular culture and advertising Consumption of shoes: observation in shoe shops

18 Focus Groups Three age based focus groups Two specialist focus groups (e.g. participants with responsibility for someone elses shoes; participants with a specialist interest such as climbing) 40-50 participants in all

19 Case Study Work 20 people to be recruited from the 5 focus groups, to reflect the spread of ages, gender, specialist involvement 1 years participation 3 interviews Minimum of three shopping trips Shoe diaries plus images Video recording of shoe journeys

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