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Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour [Paperback]

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Item Number 310013  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   424
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.7" Width: 4.9" Height: 1.2"
Weight:   0.85 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 25, 2008
Publisher   Nicholas Brealey Publishing
ISBN  1857885082  
EAN  9781857885088  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
A runaway bestseller in the UK, "Watching the English" is now available in the U.S. for the first time Witty and wise, Kate Fox reveals the quirks, habits, and foibles of the English people. Putting the national character under her microscope, Fox explores this strange and fascinating culture, governed by a complex set of unspoken rules and a bizarre code of conduct. Through anthropological analysis and a series of unorthodox experiments (often using herself as a reluctant guinea-pig), Fox discovers what these unwritten codes tell us about Englishness: the rules of weather-speak, the ironic-gnome rule, the reflex apology rule, the paranoid-pantomime rule, class anxiety tests, and the money-talk taboo, among others. "Watching the English" is a biting, affectionate, insightful, and often hilarious look at English society.

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More About Kate Fox

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Kate Fox, a social anthropologist, is Co-Director of the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford and a Fellow od the Institute for Cultural Research. The author or co-author of four previous books, Fox's work centers on intriguing aspects of human behaviour including pub culture, gossip, flirting, horseracing, mobile phones, email, stress, drugs, crime, violence and social taboos. She lives in London.

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Product Categories
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Mid-Atlantic reading on the English   Sep 18, 2008
Although international industry analyst firms aim to use similar methods when writing their research, winning sales recommendations still means connecting with the `go-to' analysts in national markets. I tend to recommend Kate Fox's book, Watching the English, to those trying to cross the cultural divide when briefing industry analysts here.

Fox is an Oxford-based anthopologist who is better known for her studies of English behavior at the race course and in the pub. It is popularly written, well structured and thoroughly researched. Fox goes deeper than the usual observations about Britain being, like Japan and France, a rather high context culture. She picks up three sets of attributes which might especially hamper those from low context cultures, like the US and Germany, who try to build rapport with analysts in the UK.

1. Reflexes in British culture include humor, moderation and hypocrisy. The first two are easier to work around. Humor is always on, even in rather formal business settings, and most interactions will be peppered with tepid humorous gambits: it's quite unlike most other cultures. Moderation is also an obstacle: paradigm changes are seen as risky rather than bold; what is new is often untested. Hypocrisy is a key element of our `negative politeness', in which not making the other person uncomfortable is often more important than being honest.
2. The general outlook is empirical, and therefore seeks facts, proof and experience. Eeyore, Winnie the Pooh's downcast friend, is a role model when it comes to the pessimistic and doom-laden scepticism of many English folks: perfectly confident projections of the future tend to be discounted. Class consciousness pervades organisations. Especially in London, many cosmopolitian organisations might be staffed largely, or even principally, by foreigners. Even in those businesses, an invisible pecking order will exist the classify the English (and a few French, who meritocracy provides metadata for mapping on to British class structures).
3. The English value fair play, courtesy and modesty. Aggressive, winner-take-all, attitudes are often seen as blinkered, comic and dangerous. Courtesy is a major flaw of many visiting business people, especially in their assumption of hierarchies in analyst firms: I often see spokesmen ignoring women and younger analysts and addressing their comments to only the analyst they feel is most senior. Modesty is also likely to give rise to misunderstandings: because no-one likes a show off, the tendency here is to underplay one's hand with irony. One might say that one `knows a little about semiconductors', which could easily mean that the person is a leading authority on the subject. In the US, business people often open conversations by dropping names and terms to locate each other on a pecking order; because English analysts will often not spar in this way, and do not feel obliged to show what they know, US spokespeople might leave a meeting with a highly able analyst still unaware of that analyst's knowledge and perceptions.
The Social Dis-ease  Jul 19, 2008
Social anthroplogist, Kate Fox, has observed the English (she is one) in in all seasons and conditions, and particularly in the places where they are most comfortable. Her books include PUB WATCHING with Desmond Morris, and PASSPORT TO THE PUB; The Tourist's Guide to Pub Etiquette. The book is witty in its analysis of the ways of English conversation and behaviour with its unwritten codes, and of weather-speak, reflex apology, ironic-gnome, money talk, and panaroid-pantomime rules which belie the underlying scholarship and serious study. It can be taken up at random, however, to delight the reader with its anecdotes and many acute observations.

In defining the characteristics of Englishness the core appears to be the Social Dis-ease, the short-hand term for all their social inhibitions and hang-ups. They can be over-polite, buttoned up and awkwardly restrained, or loud, crude or generally obnoxious. Humor, however, is the the most effective built-in antedote to the SD. They do not have a global monopoly on humor but it is the sheer pervasiveness and supreme importance of humor in English every day life and culture which is distinctive. When in doubt, joke, particularly when earnestness is threatened. Response to earnestness is cynicism, ironic detachment and a squeamish distaste for sentimentality.

She has it right in my book, speaking as a fellow Brit who is fearsome of all forms of political correctness. You really must read this eloquent and funny book on human behaviour
The Bible to the English ways!  May 29, 2008
A pleasure to read and to smile at some of the most British ways of seeing life and smelling the weather!
Watching the English  Apr 12, 2008
I've only just begun reading, but so far, it's been quite enjoyable. The author writes with humor. I've some British online friends. I've been able to use tidbits from the book when joking around with them.
Excellent Study, Worthwhile Reading  Sep 21, 2007
I had read Barzini's well known works on the Europeans and thoroughly enjoyed this book on the English.

The approach is academic yet palatable, laden with insightful observations and well deserves consideration as a work of anthropological interest. The author maintains an objective distance and professional methodology which impart a delicious irony; we are conditioned to primitive cultures as the provenance of these studies, she turns the focus upon what some may argue as the bastion of civilization.

As a guidebook to a cultural understanding of the English this work is invaluable. The expose on class is penetrating and amuses as there are unexpected twists; such as decorating your home or garden with a modicum of lower class objects, the inside joke apparent only to the cognoscienti.


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