Revisiting Norbert Elias's Sociology of Community: Learning from the Young Worker Project
journal contributionposted on 27.01.2015, 15:27 by Henrietta O'Connor, John Goodwin
Since 2001 we have been engaged in a re-study of three linked Leicester projects: The Employment of Married Women in a Leicester Factory (1959–1962), The Adjustment of Young Workers to Work Situations and Adult Roles (1962–1964) and The Established and the Outsiders (1965). The three projects contain a number of striking overlaps, not least Elias's formulation of communities as figurations through which communal behavioural standards are established, learned and maintained. Whether in the different Zones of Winston Parva, or in the large hosiery factories of Leicester, people learned the self-control of drives and affects ‘according to the pattern and extent of socially given drive and affect regulation’ of that time and that community. In this paper we outline the background to the three re-studies and link them to Elias's work on community and the broader canon of community studies. We then consider methodological lessons learnt from our re-studies – in particular, the practical process of re-studies, the definitional problems of what constitutes a re-study, and the value of visual images and walking the field. We conclude by reflecting upon the analytical promise of community re-studies.