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Knowing Your Place Uncategorized

How do we come to know our place?

This is the question Douglas Robertson asks in his recently published article Knowing Your Place: The Formation and Sustenance of Class-Based Place Identity. Robertson utilises Bourdieu’s theory of practice in an attempt to understand the role of place in the formation of class identities, using empirical data generated from studies in the Scottish city of Stirling. Here’s […]

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Knowing Your Place

Wrapt In a Brown Mantle

The line ‘wrapt in a brown mantle’ is taken from T.S. Eliot’s poem The Waste Land. It is part of a section (lines 359-365) that was inspired by an experience Sir Ernest Shackleton had on one of his expeditions. Detailed in his book South, Shackleton describes how he was convinced that he and his colleagues […]

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Knowing Your Place Uncategorized

The Desire to be Desired

Love is a relational emotion as central to the human condition as the need for physical sustenance.  It is an emotion inescapable in both public and private life, with much of popular entertainment devoted to romance and relationships. But its ubiquity is no guarantee of understanding – love is still viewed as a mysterious force […]

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Knowing Your Place

Losing Yourself

The death of identity has been announced in so many corners of academic life that it seems miraculous anyone has the courage to defend such a concept. But this is what Stephen Frosh and Lisa Baraitser did a few years ago. Their paper ‘Goodbye to identity?’ (published in Identity in question, ed. Anthony Elliott and […]

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Knowing Your Place

When Enough is Enough

Donald Winnicott’s concept of the good enough mother has endured past its psychoanalytic origins, gaining an unusual level of popularity since its first airing in 1953. No wonder, as Winnicott offers a logical and reasoned rebuttal to the unachievable concept of the perfect mother: A mother is neither good nor bad nor the product of illusion, but […]

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Knowing Your Place

An Awareness of What is Missing, Part 2

In their introductory chapter to the collection of the same name, Michael Reder and Josef Schmidt connect Habermas and his ‘awareness of what is missing’ to other thinkers such as Ernst Bloch, Theodor Adorno and most notably Bertolt Brecht (pictured).The Brecht link makes sense (there’s a link there also to Bloch): although Habermas never makes […]

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Knowing Your Place Uncategorized

The Power of Words

As evidenced on this site numerous times, understanding the relational world has proven a challenge to the social sciences – for disciplinary as well as ideological reasons. It doesn’t help that it lacks its own discipline, relying instead on the half-empty promise of inter-disciplinarity to come to the rescue. Neither does it help that the […]

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Knowing Your Place

Faking It

The earning of respect and status comes with a price attached. Originally coined in the 1970s, the concept of ‘imposter syndrome’ has become a convenient way to encapsulate the dread that can oftentimes accompany success (at whatever level) – the sense of being undeserving and unworthy of glory and honour. This is normally shadowed by a […]

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Knowing Your Place Saving Face

The Stresses of Work

The workplace provides a fertile space for the relational world to weave its magic/unleash its misery. The set of relational senses – honour, respect, pride, envy, shame, humiliation, acceptance, belonging (some of the usual suspects) have a field day with the combination of close relationships, institutional hierarchy and the inevitable emphasis on relative status. As […]

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Knowing Your Place

Bad Day at Black Rock

Movies don’t do bullies very well; they tend to over embellish, over-dramatise, oversimplify, de-contextualise. More importantly, the one thing that matters most in the bully’s world, their relationship with their victim, tends to be written out of the telling in favour of subject-object, action-reaction scenarios that de-legitimise the views of the bully, while also substituting […]