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24 November 2017

Watching the English. 2nd ed

Fox, Kate

(Hodder, 2014)

An amusing analysis of how English people behave in life's different situations

On the one hand Kate Fox is a social anthropologist on a serious mission: to turn the techniques of anthropology on her own society. On the other hand she is able to write her analysis with a self-deprecating humour that embodies the "Englishness" she describes. The result is a book that is both easy to ready and very enlightening.

The different chapters discuss problems such as how the English act when meeting people for the first time, how they work, how they chat, how they drink in pubs, how they eat and how they speak.

She concludes by drawing out some defining characteristics of Englishness: social dis-ease (ie lack of "ease", or awkwardness) lies at the heart, related to elements such as modesty and fair play, class consciousness and empiricism, humour and hypocrisy.