Thursday, 30 October 2008

The Enduring Appeal of the Local

I am not the biggest fan of Greene King though I respect them as Britain's biggest producer of cask ale, but they have just done something I very much approve of, though I dare say their intentions were not entirely altruistic. What have they done then? They have commissioned a report named as above, from the social anthropologist, Kate Fox. Now I am familiar with Kate's work through a fascinating book she wrote called "Watching the English" - quite a useful handbook for me - and the more pertinent to this blog, "Passport to the Pub" -A Tourist's Guide to Pub Etiquette, both of which are are a fantastically well observed, good read. She also wrote a smaller book with Desmond Morris, the zoologist called "Pubwatching."

So what does Kate find? She concludes with "As the pub adapts without losing its essential element of community it ensures its survival in a modern world. In the increasingly faceless anonymity of the urban environments in which most of us live, a sense of belonging and being part of a genuine community become all the more important. We can sit at our computers and exchange stories and pictures via Facebook or Myspace. Or we can go to the pub........I find it fascinating and highly revealing that in all of the focus groups and interviews I have done about online social interaction, people invariably, without exception, compare their online conversations with what they would or would not say in what they always call ‘real life’. Emails, chatrooms, networking sites, online forums and so on have their place in our lives, and it is an important place, but we all seem to be aware, if only subconsciously, that it is different and separate from ‘real life’. ‘Real life’ is still what happens in our homes, and in our homes-from-homes, the pub."

I suggest you read it for yourself here. You won't be disappointed and if you are a regular pub goer, you will recognise the picture she paints. If you are not a regular pub goer, stop reading this rubbish and get some real life down the pub!

I don't know whether the photo is Kate or not, but it accompanies her biography on the Social Issues Research Centre, where she is a director. It suits either way!


Alistair Reece said...

With sod all else to do on Friday I printed this off at work and had a good read over dinner - very useful report for my plans in the US next year! Cheers.

Tandleman said...

Glad someone found it useful!