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A short history of community re-studies. National Centre for Research Methods/ University of Nottingham joint event on community re-studies 12 April 2011, Nottingham Graham Crow Deputy Director NCRM. Abstract.

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a short history of community re studies

A short history of community re-studies

National Centre for Research Methods/ University of Nottingham joint event on community re-studies

12 April 2011, Nottingham

Graham Crow Deputy Director NCRM

  • This presentation will consider the varied nature of community studies that have been undertaken over the years. One issue to consider is what constitutes a re-study, given that re-studies are not straightforward replications; re-studies may be partial in their coverage rather than attempting to revisit the full range of concerns of the original, and they may employ different methods and theoretical perspectives that have become available in the intervening period. Re-studies can also include reassessment of archived material. Secondly, re-studies vary according to how long a period of time has elapsed since the original study was conducted. Thirdly, community re-studies may focus on how social life in particular places has changed, but there is no reason in principle why a re-study of a group of people has to be linked to a particular location or set of locations. Fourthly, re-studies may be undertaken by the same researcher or team of researchers as the original, or by different people, or by some combination of old and new team members. These issues of the what, when, where and who of community re-studies all have a bearing on the question of why community re-studies are undertaken. Part of the answer is to capture change and continuity in social relationships, but other motivations also exist, including the desire to subject the arguments of classic pieces of social research to scrutiny from a new vantage point, exposing neglected aspects of community life and the ways in which the original researchers’ standpoints led them to present community life as they did.
  • Keywords: re-studies, methodological innovation
outline of presentation
Outline of presentation
  • What is a community study?
  • What is a community re-study?
  • When do re-studies take place?
  • Where do re-studies get undertaken?
  • Who does re-studies?
  • Why do re-studies get undertaken?
community studies
Community studies
  • What are community studies? Graham Crow, presentation (slides and sound) from the 4th ESRC Research Methods Festival July 2010
  • http://eprints.ncrm.ac.uk/1496/
  • Community studies as capturing ‘ordinary people’s everyday lives’
  • Fifty five to sixty years ago, two studies were underway in the UK that were to prove remarkably influential: the fieldwork that informed Erving Goffman’s (1956) The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life was undertaken on Unst from 1949-51, while Michael Young and Peter Willmott’s fieldwork for their (1957) Family and Kinship in East London was undertaken 1953-5.
  • Both books sold >500,000 copies
  • Geoff Dench et al The New East End describes it as ‘a sequel to Family and Kinship’, a ‘second study’ that ‘ended up with a different focus from the 1957 book’ (2006: 2)
  • Luke Eric Lassiter’s Introduction to The Other Side of Middletown notes that the team adopted a framework ‘to remain consistent with the classic study’ (2004: 9), but followed an inductive process using a different methodological approach
  • Julie McLeod and Rachel Thomson refer to ‘Revisiting’ (2009: ch.7) and distinguish between follow-up studies by the original researchers and secondary analysis of archived data
  • Yves Winkin visited Unst in 1988, for one week ‘with the idea of discovering more about Goffman’s fieldwork on the island’ (2000: 197). Goffman’s was a study in but not of a community
  • General view that re-studies cannot be simple replications of the original studies, though some claims to replication have been made (Seale 1999: ch.10)
  • This may be because of the scale of the original research (e.g. Lloyd Warner’s Yankee City project employed ‘some 30 research assistants’ (Thernstrom 1974: 295)
  • Also there will have been social and social science change in the interim both leading to new questions being asked
when re studies with 1 author in common
When? Re-studies with 1+ author in common
  • R&H Lynd Middletown/Middletown in Transition 1929/1937
  • M Stacey Tradition and Change/Power, Persistence and Change 1960/1975
  • L Bryson & F Thompson An Australian Newtown/Social Change, Suburban Lives 1972/1999
  • N Scheper-Hughes Saints, Scholars and Schizophrenics 1977/2001
  • C Rosser & C Harris The Family and Social Change/Families in Transition 1965/2008
  • M Young & P Willmott Family and Kinship in East London/The New East End 1957/2006
when re studies by different authors
When? Re-studies by different authors
  • L Lassiter et al The Other Side of Middletown 1929/2004
  • C Phillipson et al The Family and Community Life of Older People 1940s-1950s/2001
  • N Dennis et al/D Warwick & G Littlejohn Coal Is Our Life/Coal, Capital and Culture 1956/1992
  • F Devine Affluent Workers Revisited 1967/1992
  • O Lewis Life in a Mexican Village 1941/1951
  • D Freeman Margaret Mead and Samoa 1928/1983
  • Challenges of returning to the same location
  • Original fieldwork site may have been successfully anonymised
  • Original researchers may have queered the pitch for future researchers (e.g. Vidich and Bensman’s Small Town in Mass Society)
  • The place may have changed, as N Charles et al found Swansea had changed, choosing four ethnographic areas to capture contemporary socio-economic and cultural patterns
  • Re-studies of organizations may require going to different locations (e.g. Julia Johnson et al’s (2007) re-study of Peter Townsend’s The Last Refuge).
  • Follow-up studies of people will very likely require going to different locations, or be a partial re-study of those who have stayed in an area (e.g. Howard Williamson’s (2004) The Milltown Boys Revisited)
  • Advantages of continuity where original researchers return to undertake the re-study, including access to participants
  • Several examples of re-study teams including an original team member and a new member
  • Access to archived materials from original studies makes re-studies by new researchers easier
  • New researchers bring new questions e.g. Warwick and Littlejohn’s theoretical framework draws on ‘Alain Touraine, Pierre Bourdieu, Manuel Castells and Raymond Murphy’ (1992: xii)
  • Characteristics of re-study researchers matter e.g. Derek Freeman re-studying Margaret Mead’s account of gender and sexuality
  • To capture social change, and individual trajectories
  • Re-studies can be anticipated by reassessments some time before re-studies happen
  • ‘In the last thirty years a great deal has happened to the locality’ (Young and Willmott on Bethnal Green in New Introduction 1986 (2007: xv)
  • 1981 Epilogue to 3rd edition of Coates and Silburn’s Poverty The Forgotten Englishmen
  • To fill in the gaps: ‘We did not explore every avenue in Swansea, and there are of course still many stones that need a careful turning over in future research’ (Rosser and Harris 1965: 39); Lassiter et al, The Other Side of Middletown
  • To reassess the accounts offered in the original studies, especially where these have proved influential e.g. Caccamo 2000; Savage 2005
  • These may all involve the use of methodological innovations. Original Young and Willmott observes that ‘for the most part we can only report what people say they do, which is not necessarily the same as what they actually do’ (2007: xxvii) cf Cornwell 1983 in-depth interviews, Foster 1999 photographs, Phillipson et al 2001 social network analysis
  • Growing interest in archival work also opens up new opportunities
  • If a Frankenberg-style Communities in Britain synthesis is no longer on the agenda, what broader picture do community studies contribute to?
  • Bryson, L. and Thompson, F. (1972) An Australian Newtown: Life and leadership in a new housing suburb. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
  • Bryson, L. and Winter, I. (1999) Social Change, Suburban Lives: An Australian Newtown 1960s to 1990s. St Leonards, NSW: Allen and Unwin.
  • Caccamo, R. (2000) Back to Middletown: Three Generations of Sociological Reflections. Stanford, Ca: Stanford University Press.
  • Charles, N., Davies, C. and Harris, C. (2008) Families in Transition: Social Change, Family Formation and Kin Relationships. Bristol: Policy Press
  • Coates, K. and Silburn, R. (1983) Poverty The Forgotten Englishmen. Notingham: Spokesman, 4th edition.
  • Cornwell, J. (1983) Hard-Earned Lives: Acccounts of health and illness from East London. London: Tavistock.
  • Dench, G., Gavron, K. and Young, M. (2006) The New East End: Kinship, Race, and Conflict. London: Profile Books.
  • Dennis, N., Henriques, F. and Slaughter, C. (1956) Coal Is Our Life: An analysis of a Yorkshire Mining Community. London: Tavistock.
  • Devine, F. (1992) Affluent Workers Revisited: Privatism and the Working Class. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
  • Foster, J. (1999) Docklands: Cultures in Conflict, Worlds in Collision. London: UCL Press.
  • Frankenberg, R. (1966) Communities in Britain. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
  • Freeman, D. (1984) Margaret Mead and Samoa: The making and unmaking of an anthropological myth. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.
  • Goffman, E. (1956) The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh.
  • Johnson, J., Rolph, S. and Smith, R. (2007) ‘Revisiting The Last Refuge: present-day methodological challenges’ in M. Bernard and T. Scharf (eds) Critical Perspectives on Ageing Societies. Bristol: Policy Press, pp.89-103.
  • Lassiter, L., Goodall, H., Campbell, E. and Johnson, M. (eds) (2004) The Other Side of Middletown: Exploring Muncie’s African American Community. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press.
  • Lewis, O. (1951) Life in a Mexican Village: Tepoztlán Revisited. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
  • Lynd, R. and Lynd, H. (1929) Middletown: A Study in Contemporary American Culture. London: Constable.
  • Lynd, R. and Lynd, H. (1937) Middletown in Transition: A Study in Cultural Conflicts. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company.
  • McLeod, J. and Thomson, R. (2009) Researching Social Change: Qualitative Approaches. London: Sage.
  • Mumford, K. and Power, A. (2003) East Enders: Family and community in East London. Bristol: Policy Press.
  • Pahl, R. (1984) Divisions of Labour. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Payne, G. (1996) ‘Imagining the community: some reflections on the community study as a method’, in E Stina Lyon and J Busfield (eds) Methodological Imaginations. Basingstoke: Macmillan, pp.17-33
  • Phillipson, C., Bernard, M., Phillips, J. and Ogg, J. (2001) The Family and Community Life of Older People: Social networks and social support in three urban areas. London: Routledge.
  • Phillipson, C. and Thompson, P. (2008) ‘Introduction’ to special issue of International Journal of Social Research Methodology 11(2), 87-91
  • Rosser, C. and Harris, C. (1965) The Family and Social Change: A study of family and kinship in a South Wales town. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
  • Savage, M. (2005) ‘Working-Class Identities in the 1960s: Revisiting the Affluent Worker Study’, Sociology 39 (5) 929-46.
  • Savage, M. (2010) Identities and Social Change in Britain since 1940. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Scheper-Hughes, N. (2001) Saints, Scholars and Schizophrenics: Mental Illness in Rural Ireland. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Seale, C. (1999) The Quality of Qualitative Research. London: Sage.
  • Stacey, M. (1960) Tradition and Change: A study of Banbury. Oxford: Oxford University Press
  • Stacey, M. et al (1975) Power, Persistence and Change: A second study of Banbury. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul
  • Thernstron, S. (1974) ‘“Yankee City” Revisited: The Perils of Historical Naïveté’ in C. Bell and H. Newby (eds) The Sociology of Community. London: Frank Cass, pp.293-306.
  • Vidich, A. and Bensman, J. (1968) Small Town in Mass Society: Class, Power and Religion in a Rural Community. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, revised edition.
  • Warwick, D. and Littlejohn, G. (1992) Coal, Capital and Culture: A sociological analysis of mining communities in West Yorkshire. London: Routledge.
  • Williamson, H. (2004) The Milltown Boys Revisited. Oxford: Berg.
  • Winkin, Y. (2000) ‘Baltasound as the Symbolic Capital of Social Interaction’ in G. Fine and G. Smith (eds) Erving Goffman. London: Sage, vol.1, pp.193-212.
  • Young, M. and Willmott, P. (1957) Family and Kinship in East London. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
  • Young, M. and Willmott, P. (2007) Family and Kinship in East London. Harmondsworth: Penguin.