From lifestyle media to lived practice: an ethnography of class, gender and ordinary gardening
AbstractThis thesis is about the ordinary cultural practice of gardening. Using an interdisciplinary framework and holding 'ordinary aesthetics' at the forefront of the analysis, it asks if the garden is a site where identities of class and gender are played out. Arguing that domestic gardening has historically acted as a form of working-class regulation, it shows that working-class people and their cultural practices have been systematically undermined by the institutional imposition of middle-class values. Drawing on autobiography, early culturalism and feminist ethnography, it constructs a framework that includes mundane practices as part of cultural analysis and insists that ordinary working-class men and women be valued. Part One examines what Bourdieu's (1986,1977,1990a, 1990b) theoretical concepts offer an analysis of gardening. Acknowledging that the salience of class as a category has been questioned, it reviews existing literature to argue that class still matters. Turning to questions of gender, it argues that Butler's (1990) theory of performativity has much to offer an analysis of modes of gendered gardening. With a view to historicise and geographically locate the study, it reviews existing inter-disciPlinary literature as a means of asking if ordinary gardeners have a respectable academic history. Turning to textually mediated images of gardening provided by the media, it analyses the importance of 'lifestyle', investigates the aesthetic concerns of the contemporary garden and the increased importance of 'ordinariness' in contemporary culture. Part Two turns to methodological matters and explains why ethnography is the principal research method of the study. Further chapters unearth the ethnographic findings on class, gender and lifestyle media consumption. Using a Bourdieuan framework it analyses the differences between working- and middleclass gardeners. Turning to Butler, it shows that gardening practices are used to perform (classed) gender identities. Utilising cultural studies literature on media audiences and focusing on class, gender and age, it investigates how garden lifestyle texts are consumed. Finally, using Chaney's (2001) work on the cultural transition from 'ways of life' to 'lifestyle' it examines what the investment of ordinary gardening practices mean for the people of the study.
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
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