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Title: "Ah know whit like an 'oor is" : the meaning of time in a Scottish Lowland community
Author: Bostyn, Anne-Marie
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1990
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The aim of this thesis is to explore the form which time takes for the inhabitants of an ex-mining village in the Central Lowlands of Scotland. It constitutes an ethnography of a community in an area of Britain which, in the past, has been largely ignored by social anthropologists. This study of an economically depressed industrial community located in a rural environment allows for the investigation of a range of issues which are especially relevent in terms of current high unemployment throughout much of the U.K. Throughout the thesis comparisons are made with other studies of working-class culture in Britain. It is based on data gathered during almost four years of fieldwork (1982-86), using participant-observation, questionnaires, interviews and a time and money budget survey (all of which are described in Chapter 2). The collection and analysis of data was informed largely by four types of literature (reviewed in Chapter 2). This deals with the nature of the phenomenon of time, time as represented in various societies, the nature of communities, and the relationship between time, work and leisure. Part 2 of the thesis focusses on time in Western society, examining the historical development of our representation and evaluation of time, and the ways in which we organise social time in particular (Chapter 3). Part 3 deals with "Cauldmoss" itself and time in this community. The general ethnography of the village in Chapter 4 describes the historical development of the settlement, and then the current situation. The latter includes examination of: employment and unemployment in the village; images inhabitants hold of the community; the importance of convention; the role of the family and peer groups in inculcating values; attitudes towards alternative value-systems (including those presented by mass media); different social groups and institutions in Cauldmoss; kinship, marriage and sexual morality, and education, religion and politics in the village. Chapter 5 explores the relationship between linearity and cyclicity in villagers' approach to time, and the stress laid on regularity. It is noted that time is experienced as embedded in activities, rather than in an abstract form, although some villagers demonstrate an awareness of time as a thing in itself. Their beliefs about fate and luck are discussed, with superstition being seen as an attempt to order and control events. Chapter 6 deals with particular aspects of time important in family life and work in Cauldmoss. It considers ways in which the past enters into the present, principally through storytelling and photography. Life-cycle ordering in Cauldmoss is examined, especially attitudes towards the young and the elderly, and analysed as a rite of passage. Chapter 6 also discusses the extent of routine (and routinised variation) in this community, looking both at informant's behaviour and their experiences. It considers the extent to which villagers plan ahead, or concentrate on the immediate, and the degree to which they value an imposed time structure, such as that provided by work. The juxta-position of work and leisure is explored, as is the experience of time among the unemployed in Cauldmoss. A detailed case-study is presented as an appendix. The central theme of the thesis is time seen as an ordering principle. Meaning depends on the relationship which exists between discrete items of experience, and time emerges in Cauldmoss as a rule-governed phenomenon which creates boundaries around events and activities and provides a medium in which they may be inter-related.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available