Studying culture can be difficult - some people believe that Bulgarians eat bread and butter for breakfast, others favour buns and coffee, yet others - ham sandwiches. So how can we conclude what Bulgarians do? Our approach to culture is the small culture one - we observe, collect data and avoid comclusions that go too far, project uniformity and disrespect individual choices.
Our students have chosen concepts which appear well-established in British culture. They conducted research following these steps:
- Choose a concept of interest to you, and typical of English culture: e.g. trainspotting, commuting, lollipop lady…..
- Check a dictionary definition in an English-English dictionary for a good description of what the concept implies. You can use OED, which will also give you the etymology and the changes through history.
- See whether you can find statistical data about the concept. Not all concepts allow for quantification, but some data – e.g. the commute for each European country, the number of people engaged in train spotting etc. – can be instructive.
- Look for uses of the concept in media. Which media have published material about the concept? What claims are made? Why?
- Check whether the concept is used in literary texts – poems, songs, films etc. Analyse critically the text – what metaphors are used, are there similes etc.? What effect is achieved with these figures of speech?
- Put all the data together and report it with reference to YOUR material. Do not attempt OVERREACHING conclusions.