Proximity and persons: making selves and relations in school
Paper short abstract:
Closeness-distance and sameness-difference are key axes through which relations are conceptualised among pupils in a London secondary school. Drawing from this ethnographic data, the implications of these metaphors are explored in terms of the relational constitution of individual persons.
Paper long abstract:
Degrees of proximity (closeness and distance) and distinction (sameness and difference) are key axes through which relations are conceptualised among pupils in a London secondary school. Best friendship is understood as "the closest sameness", while shared experiences in school enable year groups to "grow together", and valued close friendships to develop between those who define themselves as "very different". In contrast the breaking of friendships is characterised by exclusion, the creation of distance, and those who define themselves as both different and distant within school often characterise the other in reified and acrimonious terms. This paper explores the implications of these key metaphors in terms of the constitution of particular kinds of persons. Proximity and distinction make sense in relation to ideologies of the individual, the pre-constituted person moving closer or further away from other pre-constituted persons. At the same time, a focus on pupils' collaborative production and policing of conventions and the effort invested in shaping of other selves, highlights the active production of these selves. This paper considers individuation as a relational process, the constitution of particular modes of 'spacetime' (Munn 1986) not only creating relations between people of particular distance and duration but also creating the grounds from which individuality is experienced.
Collaboratively assembling persons