Fur coat, no knickers : a study of money and manners in a modern Manor
Following Bourdieu (1977) and alluding to the work of Toren (1990,1993a, 1999) and Lave (1991) this thesis supports the argument that learning, understood as a participative, historical and generative process, is intrinsic to all social practice and furthermore that all social practice substantiates human mind. It follows therefore that mind is a learning phenomenon and that it makes no sense, for example, to isolate didactic practice from the wider social situations in which children learn. The thesis argues that the form participative learning takes is that of an increasingly differentiated competence with respect to complex relations of exchange in objects, bodily actions and language. It is shown how, through particular exchange relations, the value of persons, practices and things is created and transformed as an ongoing and mutually specifying material process. Taking both childhood and the practice of ethnography as examples of legitimate peripheral participation (Lave 1991) the thesis aims towards a phenomenological description of what it means to become working class in Bermondsey, South East London. Responding to a multicultural political climate in which claims are made that the working class no longer exists, the thesis addresses the popular backlash in which white working class people demand that their social values are recognised and protected. What matters in Bermondsey, for example, is that class relations are to be understood ethnographically as the difference between common and posh people and that this distinction is articulated with whether or not a person was born and bred in Bermondsey. This means that specific ideas about kinship relations and place, understood as particular forms of materiality, mediate the development in Bermondsey of the kind of persons people can become. The chapters that follow will describe the social processes through which Bermondsey people reproduce (Narotzky 1997) the idea of themselves as a distinctive community.