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The Myth of the French 'Country' Market


jamiemaw
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Frankly, I've been reading this thread but haven't looked at the article and don't really see a need to, but as the son of a noted anthropologist and someone who spent two years and part of a summer with her "in the field," I have some comments about proper anthropological procedure.

First of all, field research is based on participant observation. That means that if you want to understand the way roles are played out in a given setting, you must yourself participate by understanding and effectively playing a role. This goes directly to the question of whether Mme de La Pradelle understood the role of shopper. If she didn't, she would not have been able to do good work in this kind of study.

Secondly (and thirdly, fourthly, etc.), approaching your research with humility, convincing the folks who are your research subjects that all you want to do is learn from them, being a good enough observer and listener to discover the right questions to ask, allowing the information you derive from this process to drive whatever conclusions you end up with, and avoiding over-extrapolation are all requirements for good work.

I'll give you an example of lousy fieldwork resulting in ignorant conclusions. There was a woman (I'll leave her name out; no reason to gratuitously slam her by name, especially as I just discovered in a web search that she died last year) who did research in the village of Ru Muda, Terengganu, Malaysia in I believe the early 70s. She concluded that Malays ate vegetables very little, and therefore must have been suffering from widespread malnutrition, and as I recall, she proposed that the Malaysian government teach them what to eat. She didn't do any research to discover if there actually was widespread malnutrition in Peninsular Malaysia at that time (there definitely was not). So how did she reach such a ridiculous conclusion? She asked people in a survey how often they ate sayur. In standard Malay, the most usual meaning for "sayur" is "vegetable(s)," but in Terengganu, "sayur" is a specific dish of things like beans (or/and sometimes cabbage, et al.) and root vegetables boiled in coconut milk with little dried shrimps and hot peppers. So her survey results showed that the folks in Ru Muda didn't have sayur all the time, but she never asked them how often they had ulam, the term for a kind of salad of raw wild or/and cultivated leaves, nor how often they had curries of this and that vegetable, such-and-such vegetable with belacan (shrimp paste), asam (tamarind sauce) dishes of such-and-such vegetable, etc. She also cited as supporting evidence that not much land in Ru Muda was used to grow vegetables. We had many occasions to drive through Ru Muda, and it very quickly became very obvious to us why they weren't growing much in that village: At the time, the whole populated area of that village was on a coastal strip very close to a stretch of beach, and the soil was very sandy. Had the researcher in question looked at most of the rest of the un-/deforested parts of the state, she might have found out not only that vegetables were growing all over the place but that many types of wild plants were being gathered; but she apparently never saw fit to visit even the next village to the north or south and never asked the right questions. And finally, she never had the sense to realize that if the Malays had really eaten the diet she concluded they were eating, and had the results of their diet been the widespread beriberi and pellagra she presumed they suffered from, the Malay people would have died out hundreds of years ago!

I'll let my remarks above speak for themselves, but I will say that I wonder sometimes whether there are some Americans who are way too quick to stereotype the French and want to take them down a peg. This comment has been taking shape in my mind for a while and is not triggered by this thread (and I hope no-one considers this remark a personal accusation from which they need to defend themselves), but you know what they say: If the shoe fits... I think we should all be grateful that there are some members who are French citizens, and if we want to emulate good research procedures, we should consider these folks to have more knowledge about their country than we do and think of ourselves as students who can learn from them. In the words of the last couplet of the first pantun (a traditional type of 4-lined Malay poetry) I learned:

Saya budak baru belajar

Kalau salah, tolong tunjukkan.

(I'm a child who just started to study

If I'm wrong, please point it out.)

[Reads better in Malay, no? :biggrin:]

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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This whole thing seems slightly off to me, I realize, because my experience at local farmers' markets is not devoted to the search for countrified goodness, whatever that is, but is instead built around the reliability of the relationships I have formed with the producers there. Since I've gotten to know a bit the folks running the CSA to which I belong and some of the farmers who sell at our local weekly markets, I don't have to worry so much about being duped by peat-covered potatoes and  gingham-wrapped jams.

Knowing actual people gives the lie to the consumption of faux "authenticity" that lurks around this entire affair like a bad toupee. I'm not sure that this study takes that cliché about human relationships very seriously, perhaps because the typical shopper doesn't either. Having said that, I'd bet a franc that, like me, Lucy is at her market to buy local produce, not to buy the experience of buying local produce.

Indeed, the very relationships that you have cultivated with producers (and you are far from being alone) are very much a part of your experience of buying local produce. But, when one stops and thinks, perhaps not just for the reasons that you have ennumerated above.

Not incidentally, Market Day in Provence addresses this subject in chapter four: 'Familiar Strangers.'

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

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Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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Frankly, I've been reading this thread but haven't looked at the article and don't really see a need to, but as the son of a noted anthropologist and someone who spent two years and part of a summer with her "in the field," I have some comments about proper anthropological procedure.

First of all, field research is based on participant observation. That means that if you want to understand the way roles are played out in a given setting, you must yourself participate by understanding and effectively playing a role. This goes directly to the question of whether Mme de La Pradelle understood the role of shopper. If she didn't, she would not have been able to do good work in this kind of study.

I too enjoyed your story, Michael, but I do see a need for you to read the book, or at least the linked excerpt, before rendering an opinion on her methodology.

Not to separate the fly shit from the pepper, but I don't know that the author has held herself out to be an anthropologist. I'd be interested to understand where you think the 'participant observation' (role-playing) of the anthropologist stops and the 'neutral observation' (non role-playing) of the journalist-writer begins.

That being said, I found her shopping acumen as acute as her sense of humour.

I'll let my remarks above speak for themselves, but I will say that I wonder sometimes whether there are some Americans who are way too quick to stereotype the French and want to take them down a peg.

I think the point has been well made previously that although this book was written by a Frenchwoman (indigène, I believe) with French government support for a heretofore French audience, the symptoms are universal.

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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So there was an arrangement that suited everybody, even though Their Lordships didn't know what was really going on. They were so remote from "ordinary people" and, shall I say, from the true nature of everyday things that they didn't even notice something was wrong. Actually, they liked it the wrong way. I couldn't help thinking of that when I read about Mme de La Pradelle and the results of her research.

" . . . that they didn't even notice something was wrong. Actually, they liked it the wrong way."

This could well be a cover quote for The University of Chicago Press edition of the book. For de la Pradelle's book (for anyone who has read it) is much less about deception (or shopping, fresh produce, cobbled markets, and bemused stallholders for that matter), as it is about that delightful and universal human condition that permits and even encourages a mutually duplicitous relationship to the frequent benefit of both parties.

For those of you who haven't had the chance to read the book yet, I think that you'll enjoy the fact that its observations (which are tempered with a good deal of humour) never decay into cynicism. But make no mistake, it isn't a Ladies Home Journal guide book either.

It's really about the suspension of disbelief whenever we make a transaction, whether it's for a basketful of fruit or an affair of the heart. But above all else, it's for the right - very humanly - to "like it the wrong way."

Or, in fact, love it.

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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Frankly, I've been reading this thread but haven't looked at the article and don't really see a need to, but as the son of a noted anthropologist and someone who spent two years and part of a summer with her "in the field," I have some comments about proper anthropological procedure.

First of all, field research is based on participant observation. That means that if you want to understand the way roles are played out in a given setting, you must yourself participate by understanding and effectively playing a role. This goes directly to the question of whether Mme de La Pradelle understood the role of shopper. If she didn't, she would not have been able to do good work in this kind of study.

I too enjoyed your story, Michael, but I do see a need for you to read the book, or at least the linked excerpt, before rendering an opinion of her methodology.

Notice that I didn't actually characterize her methodology.

I don't know that the author has held herself out to be an anthropologist, but I'd  be interested to understand where you think the 'participant observation' (role-playing) of the anthropologist stops and the 'neutral observation' (non role-playing) of the journalist-writer begins. Not to separate the fly shit from the pepper, but I found her shopping acumen quite acute.

In that case, did she over-extrapolate? Note, again, that I'm not asserting she did but posing a question.

I did a Google search for clear definitions or discussions of participant-observation and found a lot of confusing stuff, so you're not alone in asking the question you pose above. Here's a link to a page I haven't read completely, but which seems useful as a starting point. My sense is that participant-observation means that you first of all take on the role of a researcher whose investigations take place primarily through personal relationships with one's subjects (conversations; observations of them at work; taking on of roles in their work or business, with their permission, etc.), not for example pre-cooked surveys (which is not to say that well-worded surveys, especially if they include space for further comments, don't have their uses). Secondly, I think you have to be willing to do whatever within reason some of your research subjects feel would be helpful. So for example, did this researcher help any of the sellers with their work in any way while doing her studies? Inevitably, there is a degree of subjectivity in social science research of any kind, but a good researcher has to have the ability to come to some conclusions based on good field notes and cite others' work in places near and far as relevant, by way of comparison. It simply takes a special kind of person to sincerely participate in the life of the social group s/he is studying and then maintain enough independence of thought to write something other than pure propaganda in favor of the group. There have been many notable failures. I don't know if this is one of them.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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[...]I think the point has been well made previously that although this book was written by a Frenchwoman (indigène, I believe) with French government support for a heretofore French audience, the symptoms are universal.

Yeah, but who's been talking about it? It seems that this study may have been gathering dust in France. Besides, this is by no means the first thread where I've gotten the sense that some Americans, and maybe not only Americans... (I'm not going to repeat myself here. :raz:)

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Frankly, I've been reading this thread but haven't looked at the article and don't really see a need to, but as the son of a noted anthropologist and someone who spent two years and part of a summer with her "in the field," I have some comments about proper anthropological procedure.

First of all, field research is based on participant observation. That means that if you want to understand the way roles are played out in a given setting, you must yourself participate by understanding and effectively playing a role. This goes directly to the question of whether Mme de La Pradelle understood the role of shopper. If she didn't, she would not have been able to do good work in this kind of study.

I too enjoyed your story, Michael, but I do see a need for you to read the book, or at least the linked excerpt, before rendering an opinion of her methodology.

Notice that I didn't actually characterize her methodology.

I don't know that the author has held herself out to be an anthropologist, but I'd  be interested to understand where you think the 'participant observation' (role-playing) of the anthropologist stops and the 'neutral observation' (non role-playing) of the journalist-writer begins. Not to separate the fly shit from the pepper, but I found her shopping acumen quite acute.

In that case, did she over-extrapolate? Note, again, that I'm not asserting she did but posing a question.

I did a Google search for clear definitions or discussions of participant-observation and found a lot of confusing stuff, so you're not alone in asking the question you pose above. Here's a link to a page I haven't read completely, but which seems useful as a starting point. My sense is that participant-observation means that you first of all take on the role of a researcher whose investigations take place primarily through personal relationships with one's subjects (conversations; observations of them at work; taking on of roles in their work or business, with their permission, etc.), not for example pre-cooked surveys (which is not to say that well-worded surveys, especially if they include space for further comments, don't have their uses). Secondly, I think you have to be willing to do whatever within reason some of your research subjects feel would be helpful. So for example, did this researcher help any of the sellers with their work in any way while doing her studies? Inevitably, there is a degree of subjectivity in social science research of any kind, but a good researcher has to have the ability to come to some conclusions based on good field notes and cite others' work in places near and far as relevant, by way of comparison. It simply takes a special kind of person to sincerely participate in the life of the social group s/he is studying and then maintain enough independence of thought to write something other than pure propaganda in favor of the group. There have been many notable failures. I don't know if this is one of them.

Not to let this veer wildly off-topic:

1. Strictly speaking, while not not questioning her methodology, you said:

This goes directly to the question of whether Mme de La Pradelle understood the role of shopper. If she didn't, she would not have been able to do good work in this kind of study.

So as not to bias your argument you might have as easily said "If she did, she would have been able to do good work in this kind of study."

2. My impression, in following this thread, is that she has not been observed to be writing "pure propaganda for the group." More importantly though, my question was where does the journalism begin? Should a journalist feel any great compunction to be "willing to do whatever within reason some of your research subjects feel would be helpful."

Anyway, to bring this back on topic, have you ordered a copy of Market Day in Provence yet?

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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So there was an arrangement that suited everybody, even though Their Lordships didn't know what was really going on. They were so remote from "ordinary people" and, shall I say, from the true nature of everyday things that they didn't even notice something was wrong. Actually, they liked it the wrong way. I couldn't help thinking of that when I read about Mme de La Pradelle and the results of her research.

" . . . that they didn't even notice something was wrong. Actually, they liked it the wrong way."

This could well be a cover quote for The University of Chicago Press edition of the book. For de la Pradelle's book (for anyone who has read it) is much less about deception (or shopping, fresh produce, cobbled markets, and bemused stallholders for that matter), as it is about that delightful and universal human condition that permits and even encourages a mutually duplicitous relationship to the frequent benefit of both parties.

For those of you who haven't had the chance to read the book yet, I think that you'll enjoy the fact that its observations (which are tempered with a good deal of humour) never decay into cynicism. But make no mistake, it isn't a Ladies Home Journal guide book either.

It's really about the suspension of disbelief whenever we make a transaction, whether it's for a basketful of fruit or an affair of the heart. But above all else, it's for the right - very humanly - to "like it the wrong way."

Or, in fact, love it.

Congratulations for the clever hijacking of my propos, but I wasn't referring about that at all in relation to the current topic. And certainly not about market transactions (not everybody is prone to romantically suspending disbelief while buying produce, in fact many people, and indeed many French people, use extra vigilance in that case). I was pointing to Mme de La Pradelle and to the fact that everybody seemed too happy to buy her opus without questioning her research methods. Without implying that her research was necessarily flawed (in the way very accurately described by Pan's example, which absolutely hits the nail), it might well be useful to question that matter before drawing any conclusions on French markets in general on the sole ground of her research. An interesting study may well be obtained with bad methods, making it non-pertinent, but great reading all the same.

Maybe you "suspend disbelief" when you buy produce at a market, but believe me, this is not the general case. And I don't know many French people who are familiar of markets and who "suspend disbelief". Indeed, and to the contrary, extreme suspicion is at the core of French market shopping, aside of the context of touristy romanticism.

French markets are not a place of deception, they are one of the last places of relative safety and reliability regarding produce. Suspicion and defiance are the very reason why the French still love their markets and demand their presence even in newly-built towns. Suspicion and attention to detail are the very reason why markets are still so big in France. Is this observation part of Mme de La Pradelle's book?

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  Ptipois   Suspicion and defiance are the very reason why the French still love their markets and demand their presence even in newly-built towns. Suspicion and attention to detail are the very reason why markets are still so big in France. Is this observation part of Mme de La Pradelle's book?

I understand your point and think it well made. I also look forward to your opinion once you've had the chance to read the book.

  Ptipois   Maybe you "suspend disbelief" when you buy produce at a market, but believe me, this is not the general case.

Produce, never (I am one tough, shrewd carrot negotiator my few remaining friends will tell you); affairs of the heart though, as often as possible! :smile:

Congratulations for the clever hijacking of my propos,

OK, enough with the flattery. I am to hijacking what Dick Cheney is to marksmanship. But I borrowed your quote for a reason; it works remarkably well in the bigger discussion (well beyond wrinkly fruit) of not only are we what we eat, but because we are also defined (and define ourselves) by how and why we purchase. This, after all is the author's main thesis.

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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  Ptipois  Suspicion and defiance are the very reason why the French still love their markets and demand their presence even in newly-built towns. Suspicion and attention to detail are the very reason why markets are still so big in France. Is this observation part of Mme de La Pradelle's book?

I understand your point and think it well made. I also look forward to your opinion once you've had the chance to read the book.

Great suggestion, Jamie. But please have patience. It went out of print 11 years ago in this country. :smile:

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  Ptipois   Suspicion and defiance are the very reason why the French still love their markets and demand their presence even in newly-built towns. Suspicion and attention to detail are the very reason why markets are still so big in France. Is this observation part of Mme de La Pradelle's book?

I understand your point and think it well made. I also look forward to your opinion once you've had the chance to read the book.

Great suggestion, Jamie. But please have patience. It went out of print 11 years ago in this country. :smile:

Lucy,

Here you go. I believe they'll FedEx it for a modest surcharge.

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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For those of you considering ordering or purchasing a copy of Market Day in Provence, here's a list of section and chapter headings that augment some of the recent reviews quoted upthread:

The foreword is by ethnographer Jack Katz of whose "How Emotions Work" it was said:

'Katz argues that it is “possible to study rigorously how people construct their understandings of emotional behavior in natural settings.” The seven chapters in this book combine in a study of anger, laughter, shame, and crying. The result is a social psychology which attends to emotion as an accomplished, expressive, and created aspect of social life. This is an important book for all theorists of the self.'

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Foreword to the American Edition, by Jack Katz

Introduction

Part I - The Market Stage

Chapter 1 City Tour

Chapter 2 Well-Ordered Chaos

Part II - An Economy of Enticement

Chapter 3 The Art of Taking One’s Time

Chapter 4 Familiar Strangers

Chapter 5 Delights of Free Trade

Part III - Commerce of the Imaginary

Chapter 6 “The customer doesn’t go by price here”

Chapter 7 “Pumpkins are rounder at the market”

Chapter 8 “Let me have some pâté, but your pâté”

Chapter 9 “I sell Provence”

Chapter 10 Ordinary Authenticity

Chapter 11 The Truffle Circle

Part IV - Pleasure of the Agora

Chapter 12 Equality of Opportunity

Chapter 13 All at the Market, All in the Same Boat

Chapter 14 In Full View

Chapter 15 Generalized Friendship

Part V - Identity on Offer

Chapter 16 “Do you still make those little caillettes of yours?”

Chapter 17 In the Forebears’ Footsteps

Conclusion: A Moment of Utopia

Notes

Index

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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Not to let this veer wildly off-topic:

1. Strictly speaking, while not not questioning her methodology, you said:

This goes directly to the question of whether Mme de La Pradelle understood the role of shopper. If she didn't, she would not have been able to do good work in this kind of study.

So as not to bias your argument you might have as easily said "If she did, she would have been able to do good work in this kind of study."

Keep in mind that I was responding to an assertion that her shopping skills were irrelevant to the quality of the study. And the contrary wouldn't be that shopping skills would definitely be sufficient for her to do a good study, but that they might have helped her or even been one of the requirements for her to do a good study. Clearly, good shopping skills by themselves wouldn't have been sufficient for good ethnological work.

2. My impression, in following this thread, is that she has not been observed to be writing "pure propaganda for the group."

That much certainly seems clear.

More importantly though, my question was where does the journalism begin? Should a journalist feel any great compunction to be "willing to do whatever within reason some of your research subjects feel would be helpful."

Is she a journalist? Because if she's an anthropologist or a sociologist (in the French context, where sociology is much more like anthropology than it is in the US), the answer is that the journalism never begins. Journalism and anthropology are two different things. I'm thinking that a long investigative journalism project might come closest to anthropological research, but that would require the journalist(s) involved to start work without a firm viewpoint on what conclusions they will draw and even what they will find. It's common for anthropologists to find out that what they thought they were going to be working on turned out to be something completely different from what the books or articles they read said it would be, etc.

Anyway, to bring this back on topic, have you ordered a copy of Market Day in Provence yet?

Nope, I'm not interested enough to read the book, at least not for the foreseeable future, but I did want to address some assertions about the skills relevant to doing good ethnological research. Maybe she has them, maybe she doesn't, but her conclusions, as perhaps inaccurately described in this thread, seem suspect.

Edited by Pan (log)

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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It's really about the suspension of disbelief whenever we make a transaction, whether it's for a basketful of fruit or an affair of the heart. But above all else, it's for the right - very humanly - to "like it the wrong way."

Or, in fact, love it.

This is an interesting note, and it seems to me to be apt.

A book (and here I can think of at least one other example recently discussed that would give rise to the same sort of passionate questionings, definings, and defenses) can be "taken" in different ways by different readers.

Just as with all things in life.

Your sense of the humor that lies in the book is apparent, Jamie. This is a wonderful thing, for to my mind there is absolutely nothing in the world better than a feeling of being tickled merrily into an appreciation of the subtleties that the world *is*. The funny bone, if well exercised (and with care taken not to offend) is an marvellous tool that can change the world from grey to glorious in a split second.

There's always a fine line between being able to enjoy this sort of thing or alternately, having the sense that one is being laughed at, or even more seriously - to feel that the words said might affect life in a negative way.

Pah.

Yes, I think I'll read the book.

Not so much for the "information" presented but to simply feel whatever sense it is that the author does have (for me) - and to assess better how it is that humor perhaps intended can go off the radar. It seems to me as if the core of this question might lay in how the author is dressing him or herself in the process of writing (as Michael has noted above).

Interesting.

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Yes, I think I'll read the book.

Not so much for the "information" presented but to simply feel whatever sense it is that the author does have (for me) - and to assess better how it is that humor perhaps intended can go off the radar.

Hey, this is supposed to be an anthropology book. Not a Peter Mayle book.

If humor is the main reason for purchasing an anthropology book, then there must be something wrong with the anthropology.

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Is she a journalist? Because if she's an anthropologist or a sociologist (in the French context, where sociology is much more like anthropology than it is in the US), the answer is that the journalism never begins. Journalism and anthropology are two different things. I'm thinking that a long investigative journalism project might come closest to anthropological research, but that would require the journalist(s) involved to start work without a firm viewpoint on what conclusions they will draw and even what they will find. It's common for anthropologists to find out that what they thought they were going to be working on turned out to be something completely different from what the things they read said it would be, etc.

I work as a journalist sometimes, and I also have done research in food history and geography. My work is completely different in either case. I would never have dreamed of using the techniques I use in journalistic writing in my research reports, while I can also say that at times my research methods do feed my journalistic writings to give them a sturdier base. I remember when, long ago, when I was studying archaeology and geography, our teachers would describe the nicely-written, but not very rigorous students' essays as "perfect journalistic work".

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Hey, this is supposed to be an anthropology book. Not a Peter Mayle book.

If humor is the main reason for purchasing an anthropology book, then there must be something wrong with the anthropology.

Honestly what concerns me most about reading this book is the foreword written by Jack Katz that says:

"This is an important book for all theorists of the self."

Honestly, my head almost hit the keyboard as I was struck with a sudden, intense urge to take a long nap.

:wink:

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[=Pan,Feb 17 2006, 06:37 AM]

Keep in mind that I was responding to an assertion that her shopping skills were irrelevant to the quality of the study. And the contrary wouldn't be that shopping skills would definitely be sufficient for her to do a good study, but that they might have helped her or even been one of the requirements for her to do a good study. Clearly, good shopping skills by themselves wouldn't have been sufficient for good ethnological work.

(Just jumping in to clarify this) Well, if you're doing a study of the produce at the market, shopping skills are relevant.

If you're doing a study on whether the people who sell the produce actually grew it themselves (which I obviously voew as the core of the book, which I hope to read soon), shopping skills are not relevant, though statistical and investigative skill may come in handy.

If you're doing a study on why tourists might be buying mediocre produce from people who may or may not that produce's producers, you probably need some shopping skills and a bit of marketing and psychology savvy.

And, if you're doing a study of the whole larger market phenomena, moving into the area and living with the locals -- and, as Pan points oit, getting the dialect right - may be called for.

There are a lot of ways to look at things.

And PS, if anybody has mistaken my spirited defense of Mme de la Pradelle and my suspicion that all is not as it seems in certain markets as anything remotely resembling an anti-French bias, I assure you that nothing could be further from the truth.

Au revoir, until I get the book read or can conduct my own market research.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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[EDIT]

Yes, I think I'll read the book.

Not so much for the "information" presented but to simply feel whatever sense it is that the author does have (for me) - and to assess better how it is that humor perhaps intended can go off the radar. It seems to me as if the core of this question might lay in how the author is dressing him or herself in the process of writing (as Michael has noted above).

Interesting.

I couldn't agree more, Karen; even well-reasoned discussion benefits from the leavening of humour, especially when it runs to the "nudge, nudge, wink, wink" school of corny beefs on wry. Perhaps that sandwich of opinion is best taken with a grain of psalt.

Hair-splitting, clairvoyance and shopping techniques aside, I was delighted to see such a rigorous debate: informed discussion is really what this place should be about and I applaud fellow members for taking such a keen interest.

As Lucy points out, the original book was published in France eleven years ago. It would be interesting to know what The University of Chicago's motivation is in re-publishing it, replete with an American-written foreword.

I also wonder what - in some type of loose order - the effect of North American publication will be:

1. Will de La Pradelle's work be sensationalized in English-speaking counties and do for open-air markets what Peter Mayle did for home renovations?

2. Will it be regarded as a series of observations in the style of Lawrence Osborne's The Accidental Connoisseur ?

3. Will it be regarded as a serious endictment of a way of life?

4. Will it be regarded as a serious piece of work (if salted with wry, found humour), where extrapolations take the discussion to other levels of how we choose?

5. Or will it sink like a stone, unread and unloved?

As I have tried to suggest here (alas, not always successfully), the beauty of found humour and of our human condition is in the eye of the beholder. And in the case of turnips and boyfriends, as Ptipois amplifies, the eyes have it.

Even here, as luck would have it: Nobody plays the Canadian card like the Canadians. :smile:

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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Hey, this is supposed to be an anthropology book. Not a Peter Mayle book.

If humor is the main reason for purchasing an anthropology book, then there must be something wrong with the anthropology.

Honestly what concerns me most about reading this book is the foreword written by Jack Katz that says:

"This is an important book for all theorists of the self."

Honestly, my head almost hit the keyboard as I was struck with a sudden, intense urge to take a long nap.

:wink:

Not quite, Karen, although I had a remarkably similar reaction after I woke up the family last night. :biggrin:

  jamiemaw   The foreword is by socioligist-ethnographer Jack Katz of whose "How Emotions Work" it was said:

'Katz argues that it is “possible to study rigorously how people construct their understandings of emotional behavior in natural settings.” The seven chapters in this book combine in a study of anger, laughter, shame, and crying. The result is a social psychology which attends to emotion as an accomplished, expressive, and created aspect of social life. This is an important book for all theorists of the self.'

The quote actually referred to a third-party review of a book that Katz had authored called "How Emotions Work." I posted the review pull-quote intentionally as I thought it reflected on some of our own discussion. :laugh:

It was he though who invented the handy phrase "An Unindictable Fraud".

Katz has published such works as "On the Rhetorics and Politics of Ethnographic Methodology" and "Analytic Induction" (International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences); "analytic induction is a research logic used to collect data, develop analysis, and organize the presentation of research findings." Personally, I'd like a combi-analytic induction range so that I can have my cake and eat it too.

And now, back to Women's Hockey. :smile: Looks like we'll be having turnips, err, Swedes, for lunch.

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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