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Title: The everyday life of a woodland nature reserve : an ethnographic study
Author: Birks, Stephen J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7425 6586
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2018
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This ethnographic study explores the ways in which a group of social actors participate in the everyday life of a woodland nature reserve, the relationships they establish with each other, the way they engage with the nonhuman materiality of the woodland and how they are affected by this engagement. An autoethnographic approach was taken which was based on the researcher’s immersion in the research setting. This made possible a deep understanding of the affective experiences of the research participants and facilitated an appreciation of the meanings of the woodland materiality for informants which were often ‘beyond words’. The study focussed on a group of staff and volunteers and the everyday practical tasks that they engaged in which were mainly coppicing the reserve’s ancient woodland and ecological surveying and monitoring of its woodland and wildlife. These activities are central to the everyday life of the reserve and take place in the context of the environment and wildlife conservation cultural fields. They are conceptualised as core activities and generate fulfilment for those who engage in them. The analytical framework used brings together the concepts of habitus (Bourdieu, 1997), dwelling (Ingold, 1993), and ‘becoming with’ (Despret, 2004; Haraway, 2008) and allows an understanding of how informants’ habitus (both general and specific) derived from the cultural fields they experienced during childhood and in employment, shape not only their participation in the everyday life of the reserve but also how this participation is experienced and their ways of being-in-the-woodland. These last are analysed as occupying a spectrum from an instrumental relationship, through becoming with and dwelling fleetingly to dwelling. Dwelling is associated with a woodland habitus. One of my key findings is that involvement in the practices of wildlife conservation immerses social actors in a nonhuman woodland world that for most transforms their way of being-in-the-world.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: University of Warwick
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: GE Environmental Sciences ; GV Recreation Leisure ; HM Sociology