A Phenomenology of Working-Class Experience by Simon J. Charlesworth

By Simon J. Charlesworth

Charlesworth examines issues of poverty and sophistication through targeting a specific town--Rotherham--in South Yorkshire, England, and utilizing the non-public testimony of deprived those that stay there, bought via recorded interviews and conversations. He applies to their lifestyles tales the interpretative instruments of philosophy and social idea, drawing specifically at the paintings of Pierre Bourdieu and Merleau-Ponty. Charlesworth argues the tradition defined during this ebook isn't really detailed to Rotherham and the issues pointed out during this e-book may be prevalent to economically powerless and politically dispossessed humans in all places.

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We must be aware of the duration of certain experiences like unemployment, and what the effects of that experience have been both upon the individual and upon the culture of the locality as a whole. ) and a command of the conditions, psychological and social, both associated with a 24 A phenomemology of working class experience particular position and a particular trajectory in social space. Against the old Diltheyan distinction, it must be accepted that understanding and explaining are one. (Bourdieu 1996a: 23) Merleau-Ponty’s emphasis on the phenomenal body and the ontology that he formulates around notions like ‘incarnate subjectivity’ are important in understanding how working class people experience the social at a time of acute poverty and vulnerability.

The whole operation takes place in the domain of the phenomenal; it does not run through the objective world. (Merleau-Ponty 1962: 105) This I take to mean that the deepest knowledge of a place is something that cannot be conveyed because it is carried in comportment (the mute structure in whose context gesture ‘refers’), even ‘transferred’ in that medium of silent sense, through non-verbal cues that instil in space its contours of amiability or aggression. It is that realm which affects how things show up for us, but which we seldom think about because it concerns the world in which we are spontaneously absorbed in coping with the space we must negotiate in order to achieve our immediate projects.

The process of theorizing, the generalizations, the concepts, are not driven by the desire to create an objectifying distance, but to honour the suffering of these people in a way that is adequate to its significance: to do justice to them, to honour their lives. As Wittgenstein suggested (Wittgenstein 1980) the intellectual’s task is comparable to that of a draughtsman whose job it is to arrange before our eyes the relations between phenomena, and this is exactly what my task has been: to take the everyday embodied understanding of the people and to set it within a pattern of thinking that draws out its latent significance, what I believe they are really saying to one another when they say what they say.

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