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Living and Working on Sheppey: Past, Present and Future Graham Crow (Southampton) and Dawn Lyon (Kent) Re-using the ESDS Qualidata Pioneers of Qualitative.

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Presentation on theme: "Living and Working on Sheppey: Past, Present and Future Graham Crow (Southampton) and Dawn Lyon (Kent) Re-using the ESDS Qualidata Pioneers of Qualitative."— Presentation transcript:

1 Living and Working on Sheppey: Past, Present and Future Graham Crow (Southampton) and Dawn Lyon (Kent) Re-using the ESDS Qualidata Pioneers of Qualitative Research Collection University of Essex, 10 December 2009

2 Overview of project South East Coastal Communities Project Dawn Lyon, Peter Hatton, Tim Strangleman (University of Kent), Graham Crow (University of Southampton), Jenny Hurkett, Alice Young (Blue Town Heritage Centre, Sheerness), in association with TEA, and UKDA Focus on memories of the Naval Dockyard (closed 1960) and its occupational community and on young peoples imagined futures Partial re-study of Ray Pahls 1970s/80s study

3 Location of Sheppey

4 Map of Sheppey

5 (Some of) the project team outside the Blue Town Heritage Centre, Sheerness

6 The original study Divisions of Labour (1984) based on an extensive, mixed methods project Revisiting the archived essays written by 142 school leavers in May 1978 (mainly 16-year-olds, 90 boys, 52 girls) Speedy publication of Living without a job: how school leavers see the future New Society 2 November 1978: 259-62

7 Revisiting the data What is gained by re-visiting the archived material? New Society article acknowledges that it doesnt do full justice to the full range of themes in the essays: My material would be extremely hard to interpret without some knowledge of the local context. As this improves, I may wish to modify my present interpretation (1978: 262)

8 Methods 1 First, there are interesting lessons about methods Demonstrates the value of ethnographic exploration early on in a large mixed methods study (and need for caution) Themes developed by Pahl and Wallace of middle mass, owner-occupation and DIY, distinctive local culture, etc. identifiable in embryo in essays

9 Methods 2 Middle mass my family and I were not rich but we were not poor either (essay F131); I just lived an ordinary life (M30) DIY improvements to owner-occupied housing [with birth of second child] by this time our house was getting crowded and rather than move, we decided to extend (F93)

10 Methods 3 when I left school at the age of 16 I started work at a DIY shop learnt the trade… then I bought myself a piece of land with all the knowledge behind me I could build my own house… and that is what happen[ed] (M51)

11 Methods 4 Most of these households in the middle mass own their own homes and, judging from the Sheppey Survey, gain substantial satisfaction from creating a style of life based on small-scale domesticity (Pahl 1984: 320) the image of the self-made, self-employed, and self-building man is a popular local archetype (Wallace 1987: 13)

12 Methods 5 Reproduction of negative local images this domp of a place (M64); living in a dump like Isle of Sheppey (M73); I was now living in London away from the increasingly boring Isle of Sheppey (M28); I would also dream of the day that I would leave the island for good (F110)

13 Methods 6 But more positive accounts: we decided to stay on the island being as we both had our families here (F99); me and my wife decided to move to the Isle of Sheppey back to my home (M42); When I retired I bought a house in a quiet part of Minster and I settled down to laze away the years I had left (M85)

14 Methods 7 I was shown on a number of occasions how a crude drawing of East Anglia and the Thames Estuary could demonstrate that Sheppey was a piece of shit in the arse ole of England. But then the conversation would quickly shift and many would emphasise that it was curious how often people came back to the Island after leaving it for a time… people felt at home on Sheppey… Working-class Islanders do have a strong commitment to their locality (Pahl 1984: 189, 193) Sheppey as a space of hope (Harvey, 2000)

15 Debates in social science Secondly, archived material has points of connection to long-standing debates in social science Household work strategies link to ambitions, aspirations, plans, fantasies and the best ways of capturing these (Himmelweit et al 1952; Veness 1962; Elliott 2005; Anderson et al 2005; Brannen & Nilsen 2002, 2007)

16 Doing sociology Thirdly, feed into knowledge of the history of Sociology and how it is practised Jennifer Platts comment that routine practices (2005: 29) of sociologists neglected Archive includes Pahls notes about some of the essays on cards Totally unrealistic idea of what he earns and what he gets – own house, car etc. (on 38); Total fantasy (on 8); own business buying and selling cars (on 76)

17 Drawing on Himmelweit et al (1952); Veness (1962) Essays are writing from present about a future that is past How people conceive of and conduct courses of action (Archer, 2007) Imagination as method Imagination of researchers too? Looking back and seeing different themes; exchange on craft of sociology

18 Emerging themes: Hope/Escape The might have been and intergenerational mobility John made money – compares himself to school friend, Mark, still in factory job although probably equally as happy now – his own children will never have to graft like I did, not like Marks children (M15) Son got apprenticeship; father failed to (M36) Jill gave up hope of being teacher but younger daughter in education with hopes of becoming a teacher (F91) Adventure: motorbikes, boats and sailing Pleasure: enjoy life until the end (M8) Standing: gained respect (M16) Geographical mobility Turning points and things working out OK…


20 Emerging themes: Constraint 1 Failure: in exams, e.g. half the Olevels hoped for, at interviews, in availability of work Inadequacy: not good enough (M48); wanted to live in Italy but that was asking for too much (M56); this [cleaning work] was all I was fit for (M75); had to settle for second best (F104) Gratitude: finding a job as one of the most pleasing moments in my life (M1); jobs were scarce so you had to take what you can get (M30); life not one of sheer tragic disaster (F97) Bourdieu and amor fati; Durkheim and satisfaction relative to expectations

21 Emerging themes: Constraint 2 Entrapment: By the age of 33, rebel had died - like my father was at that age and probably his father before him; wife liked upward mobility even though it didnt make me happy (M4); for the next 40 years I did the same thing (M22); Went on then dole with thousands of other people (M16) Endurance: Grin and bear it; learn to like it (M2); retirement as tedious (M1); it was a matter of keeping a job (M33) Body as expression of lifes limits: legs amputated (M21); rheumatism (M29); cripple (M30); car crash (M33); 2 broken legs (M61) – women refer to accidents of male partners, esp in cars (F96, F99, F117, F119)

22 Multi-voiced texts Internal conversations and external expressions of reflexive imaginings Other peoples aspirations for the author Family sayings/community wisdom as resources for sense-making Examples: settling down; fell for baby; re money it might not seem much to you but it got me by (M33)

23 The (im)possibility of life projects Significant proportion of essays are apparent nonsense Future as extended present (Brannen and Nilsen, 2002) Fragmented reflexivities? (Archer, 2007) Examples: at 40, I can safely say my life had ended (M4); story stops at age 30 (M12); same job all life (M39); by 50 I was old (F129)

24 Ongoing research New essays currently being collected (ca 70 so far) – collaboration with Academy - formal process of consent from teachers and students Under broadly similar conditions to 1978 ones Context of recession But earlier in academic year More explicit wording/instructions to teachers Both data sets coded and analysed quantitatively Starting point for other forms of expressions, especially using the visual and everyday technologies

25 References Anderson, M. et al (2005) Timespans and plans among young adults Sociology 39(1) 139-55 Archer, M. (2007) Making our Way through the World, Cambridge University Press Bourdieu, P. (1999 [1993]) The Weight of the World, Stanford University Press Brannen, J. and Nilsen, A. (2002) Young peoples time perspectives: From youth to adulthood Sociology 36(3) 513-37. Brannen, J. and Nilsen, A. (2007) Young people, time horizons and planning, A response to Anderson et al Sociology 41(1) 153-60. Elliott, J. (2005) Using Narrative in Social Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches (London: Sage) Harvey, D. (2000) Spaces of Hope, Edinburgh University Press. Himmelweit, H. et al (1952) The views of adolescents on some aspects of the social class structure, British Journal of Sociology 3(2) 148-72 Pahl, R.E. (1978) Living without a job: how school leavers see the future New Society 2 November 1978: 259-62 Pahl, R.E. (1984) Divisions of Labour (Oxford: Basil Blackwell) Platt, J. (2005) What should be done about the history of British Sociology?, in A.H.Halsey and W.G.Runciman (eds) British Sociology Seen from Without and Within. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Veness, T. (1962) School Leavers: Their Aspirations and Expectations (London: Methuen) Wallace, C. (1987) For Richer, For Poorer: Growing up in and out of work (London: Tavistock)

26 Contact details Graham Crow, University of Southampton Dawn Lyon, University of Kent Living and working on Sheppey project

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