1951: The Interview and the Melodrama of Social Mobility

Mike Savage

in Identities and Social Change in Britain since 1940

Published in print May 2010 | ISBN: 9780199587650
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191740626 | DOI:
1951: The Interview and the Melodrama of Social Mobility

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This chapter examines how the interview could be claimed for an emerging sociology, as a means of generating distinctive kinds of ‘ordinary’ knowledge. It illustrates how interviews were removed from the distinctively psychoanalytic and therapeutic domain in which they had originated, and were deployed in collaboration with literary narratives in order to provide ‘melodramas of social mobility’. The chapter shows how research associated initially with the Tavistock Institute allowed a different kind of social science to take shape and traces how Elizabeth Bott helped to shape this new social science, and in the process displaced concerns with personality and morality that had been fundamental to earlier social science.

Keywords: interview; sociology; knowledge; literary narratives; social mobility; Tavistock Institute; social science; Elizabeth Bott; personality; morality

Chapter.  11327 words. 

Subjects: Comparative and Historical Sociology

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