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'I know my economy’: a political ethnography of how everyday actors understand ‘the economy'

'I know my economy’: a political ethnography of how everyday actors understand ‘the economy'
'I know my economy’: a political ethnography of how everyday actors understand ‘the economy'
This thesis is a political interpretivist ethnographic study of everyday actors’ understanding of the term ‘the economy’. Political scholars have neglected this subject despite its central relevance; often treating the economy as if it is an uncontested concept. I conducted fieldwork with sixty residents from two contrasting districts in a city on the south coast of England between 2016 and 2017. When people are asked to define ‘the economy’, answers are often thin, along the lines of ‘to do with money’, but using methods like participant observation, semi-structured interviews and focus groups reveals fuller and more nuanced understanding.

The thesis suggests that the dominant pattern in how everyday actors’ understandings of the economy vary is based on their economic circumstances. High income participants, regardless of their political beliefs, understand the economy to be an umbrella for potentially benign forces. Their distrust of economic expertise is growing but not deep-rooted. In contrast, low income participants, regardless of their political beliefs and despite expressing deep economic concerns, contest the official discourse on the economy. Most low income participants understand ‘the economy’ to be a rigged system in which wealthy elites, including politicians and economic experts, ‘write the rules’. They are three times less likely to use the term ‘the economy’ than higher income participants and less likely to label their own political behaviour in relation to recent political events as ‘economic’, even when their wider reasoning has been about issues that would usually be interpreted as economic in analyses of political behaviour. The thesis reveals that both high and low income participants entwine their moral and economic beliefs, which raises questions for how we as political scientists categorise what is economic and non-economic and interpret trends in current political behaviour.
University of Southampton
Killick, Anna
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Killick, Anna
bfc01103-6db9-4e6e-98d1-2f84fbbcde8c
Rhodes, R.A.W.
cdbfb699-ba1a-4ff0-ba2c-060626f72948

Killick, Anna (2018) 'I know my economy’: a political ethnography of how everyday actors understand ‘the economy'. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis, 253pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

This thesis is a political interpretivist ethnographic study of everyday actors’ understanding of the term ‘the economy’. Political scholars have neglected this subject despite its central relevance; often treating the economy as if it is an uncontested concept. I conducted fieldwork with sixty residents from two contrasting districts in a city on the south coast of England between 2016 and 2017. When people are asked to define ‘the economy’, answers are often thin, along the lines of ‘to do with money’, but using methods like participant observation, semi-structured interviews and focus groups reveals fuller and more nuanced understanding.

The thesis suggests that the dominant pattern in how everyday actors’ understandings of the economy vary is based on their economic circumstances. High income participants, regardless of their political beliefs, understand the economy to be an umbrella for potentially benign forces. Their distrust of economic expertise is growing but not deep-rooted. In contrast, low income participants, regardless of their political beliefs and despite expressing deep economic concerns, contest the official discourse on the economy. Most low income participants understand ‘the economy’ to be a rigged system in which wealthy elites, including politicians and economic experts, ‘write the rules’. They are three times less likely to use the term ‘the economy’ than higher income participants and less likely to label their own political behaviour in relation to recent political events as ‘economic’, even when their wider reasoning has been about issues that would usually be interpreted as economic in analyses of political behaviour. The thesis reveals that both high and low income participants entwine their moral and economic beliefs, which raises questions for how we as political scientists categorise what is economic and non-economic and interpret trends in current political behaviour.

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Anna Killick thesis - Version of Record
Available under License University of Southampton Thesis Licence.
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Published date: June 2018

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 426217
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/426217
PURE UUID: d1eb806b-6bbb-405d-8287-b25d76e644db
ORCID for R.A.W. Rhodes: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-1886-2392

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 20 Nov 2018 17:30
Last modified: 22 Nov 2021 06:57

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Contributors

Author: Anna Killick
Thesis advisor: R.A.W. Rhodes ORCID iD

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