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Title: Race, rurality & respectability : English villagers, Eastern European migrants and the intersection of whiteness and class in rural England
Author: Moore, Helen
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2013
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In this research project, which is based on 12 months of residential ethnographic fieldwork, I explore the intersection of whiteness and social class in a rural English village. Drawing on a body of literature known as 'critical whiteness studies' I bring attention to the presence of race in this village location, and argue that although whiteness is largely invisible to the white English village residents, it nonetheless shapes their daily lives in numerous and important ways. I analyse how village residents claim a sense of belonging in the rural Worcestershire village of 'Mayfield' through attachments to place, to history and to people, and how belonging is also secured by unconscious, banal and everyday performances of whiteness, EnglislU1ess and rurality. Here I adopt Pierre Bourdieu's (1984) notion of cultural capital to argue that although the residents of Mayfield are demographically diverse, what unites them is their 'commonsense' understandings of how to fit in with local social networks, 'respectable' ways of living, and the associated decorums of whiteness. I am particularly concerned with how white English village residents define their identity and belonging in opposition to white Eastern European migrant labourers who work on the village's horticultural farms. I argue that in securing their position of hegemonic whiteness, villagers draw upon finely-tuned class distinctions and a racist rhetoric of difference, which positions the migrants as a different 'shade' of white. The migrants have white skins, but without the necessary cultural capital, they are positioned by Mayfield residents as low-status Others who cannot be integrated into village life. While the primary focus of this research is the English villagers of Mayfield, I also incorporate the migrants' perspective. In Mayfield, Eastern European migrants are talked about but not talked-to; observed but not known. Therefore the inclusion of migrant narratives in my thesis is an attempt to address this imbalance.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: ESRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available