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Title: Divining the local sacred: local authority, local rites, local emotion, local ethics, local action and class
Authors: Isobel Darlington, Catherine
Advisors: Smith, S
Keywords: diachronic and synchronic comparison;Durkheim;Economising and improving;regulation;totemic
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Brunel University London
Abstract: This argument rests on the claim that i) local authority, ii) rites, iii) emotions, iv) ethics and v) action are co-constitutive, mediated somewhat by vi) intra-class divisions and that the outcome of this is vii) the local sacred. The claim is that the local level matters. Local authorities foster particular varieties of the sacred created over long periods. Each is the outcome of local rites at first contested, then affirmed and re-affirmed over time. Long-term diachronic and synchronic comparisons of two local authorities, using methods chosen pragmatically, divined two local authorities’ contrasting ‘religious lives’. One location demonstrates regular, large-scale and spectacular gatherings, which sustain a shared categorical distinction between a ‘Dirty Old Dartford’ and a ‘Brighter and More Beautiful’ future Dartford. Impatient Improvers displaced indignant Economisers, ethical distinctions which correspond only approximately to protagonists’ class positions. The second location demonstrates quiescence today. However, though Uxbridge, by common consent, is identified as ‘okay’, it was once animated by fierce seventeenth century disputes over collection of market tolls and later by mid nineteenth-century Chartist attempts at ‘vindication of the working man’, articulated locally by Gerald Massey and John Bedford Leno in The Uxbridge Spirit of Freedom and Working Men’s Vindicator. Conducted by Working Men (1849). I trace how pronounced ritualised disputes were then supplanted by quieter gatherings such as fruit and vegetable competitions, agricultural shows and horticultural displays. In this way an ordinary and quiet life of domesticity was treasured. Again, class was only part of the account of burgagers versus aristocrat, then artisan versus petty bourgeois (Steinmetz and Wright, 1989). To understand local authority-formation it is necessary to understand its varying ritual and sacred impetus. For this task I develop especially Durkheim’s The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life ([1912] 1915) and more recent neo-Durkheimian writing. However, in considering the development of local authority Regulation Theory is acknowledged and the ‘relative autonomy’ thesis as applied locally (Smith, 1984) which also rests on historical analysis, but of class. But neither Smith nor other neo-Marxist regulationists investigate ritual and affect while much regulation theory is altogether ahistoric. I also find major discrepancies between Marxist regulation theory and the evidence; doubting – especially at the local level - links supposed to exist between regimes of accumulation and modes of regulation (cf. Peck and Tickell, 1992) claimed as necessary to accumulation. While the local actors studied could be said to have enacted class interests - and for this reason we must consider the contribution which neo-Marxist Regulation theory might make – the animation of an interest is treated instead using a neo-Durkheimian approach. Interests remain inert unless invested with passion and this seems unlikely without ritual enactment. The sacred has powerful constructive and destructive social potentiality (Durkheim, [1912] 1915) but it is notoriously difficult not only to define but also to identify. As will be demonstrated, local authorities do much to harness, demarcate and contain the local sacred by careful placement of special totemic objects in defined spaces. The elements of this model of local authority may be used to divine the local sacred empirically. It can be employed by researchers, town centre managers and the local population.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the award of Doctor of Philosophy and was awarded by Brunel University London
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Brunel Business School Theses

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