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As a network analyst, I am fascinated by social interactions. The ways in which people connect with one another and exercise power and authority by deploying different…
As a network analyst, I am fascinated by social interactions. The ways in which people connect with one another and exercise power and authority by deploying different forms of capital. This piece returns to the underlying and changing kinship network structure of the village of Ambridge over time, explores the role of ‘kin-keeping’ as deployed by the matriarchs Peggy and Jill. I am most interested in the ways in which gender as performed by the women of the village intersects with abundance or lack of other forms of capital, and how far inequalities persist and why. It is clear that there is an intergenerational power dynamic at play in the spreading or hoarding of the various dimensions of power layered together and how forms of capital intersect for protection or precarity. Social and cultural capital at birth in the village is defining in terms of both ‘serious’ life outcomes as well as how more minor infractions and foibles are viewed. Further, I return to discuss how my various network-based predictions have fared over time. The Headlam Hypothesis and the fate of Ed Grundy – King of Ambridge are revisited and their durability explored.
Interrogating the networks in Ambridge can lead to a focus on kinship and familial relationships or various other forms of power and authority. This chapter focusses on…
Interrogating the networks in Ambridge can lead to a focus on kinship and familial relationships or various other forms of power and authority. This chapter focusses on the ways that civil society networks are mobilised in the village, exploring how far they are orientated towards social stability and maintenance of the status quo or towards social change. These motivations have been subjected through the collection of vignettes into an innovative social forces analysis through which the internal and external motivations of women in volunteer and informal roles are categorised as being characterised by, variously, self-reliance solidaristic activism as characterised by Lady Bountiful/NIMBYism and lastly benign (p)maternalism. These motivations are all seen in the high levels of subtly gendered activity undertaken in the informal realm (beyond the structures of family or contractual relationships) whereby community power can truly be viewed as a form of ‘women’s work’.
Kinship structures in Ambridge have been analysed using social network analysis (SNA) showing a network of a ‘small world’ type with 75 individual people linked by birth or marriage. Further, the network shows four major cliques: the first two centred on Aldridge and Archer matriarchies and the second where through the marriages of the third generation the Grundies, Carters, Bellamies and Snells connect together. The chapter considers the possible futures for kinship networks in the village, arguing either a version of the status quo or The Headlam Hypothesis through which Archers assume less importance and the strength of the weak ties in the network assume more prominence.
Gossip is part of everyday life and can play an important role in society. It has been part of human communication since we started to talk and is common to communities…
Gossip is part of everyday life and can play an important role in society. It has been part of human communication since we started to talk and is common to communities around the world. Evidence of gossip adorned the walls of ancient tombs in Egypt, and advice against gossiping can be found in the words of King Solomon in the Old Testament, in the theses of Greek philosophers, and in proverbs from all cultures. Yet gossip continues to be all around us, and most of our conversation time involves some form of it. Despite this, those who initiate gossip are often derided for being gossip mongers, and not without good reason. At its worst, gossip can destroy reputations and businesses, be used as a form of bullying, and cause a great deal of distress. In this chapter, however, I focus on why and how gossip is used and the purpose it serves in village life. Ambridge resident Susan Carter is a renowned gossip with high, unsubtle output compared to other villagers. I look at Susan's gossiping at both a psychosocial level and in terms of benefits she may gain. I also discuss gossip at the village level from two perspectives. I explore the importance of gossip to village life based upon peer reviewed literature, and relate these findings to the comings and goings of the residents of Ambridge. I then also look at how gossip is needed to relay storylines to the listeners. Finally, social media has helped to bring together Archers fans who like nothing more than to spend hours gossiping about their favourite villagers and berating Susan for her tittle-tattle. Yet The Archers wouldn't exist without gossip, so maybe we should be grateful to Susan and carry on gossiping.