Who got that job?

April 21, 2006

Stewart Muir, research assistant, Real Life Methods Node, Economic and Social Research Council National Centre for Research Methods, department of sociology, Manchester University Job advertised in The Times Higher , October 21, 2005

Starting the day with a coffee, buying your morning paper and following a bedtime routine with your children. These are all examples of everyday ritual being studied by anthropologist Stewart Muir.

Over the next three years, Dr Muir and his colleagues at Manchester University aim to produce social science knowledge with connections to everyday experience.

The Manchester project is one of several funded by the ESRC to improve the quality and range of research techniques used by social scientists in the UK.

"We want to examine the changing nature of ritual in families and communities," Dr Muir said. "We want to uncover the conscious or unconscious decisions that people make to link together different generations. So we've started thinking about how to look at different geographic areas, communities and types of families.

"We're particularly keen to follow families with a blend of cultures or religions. These families have to think a lot about what they do and why, what to pass on to their children and how to participate in each other's heritage."

Dr Muir's own most frequent ritual is drinking coffee religiously every day.

"I have to make my coffee using the stove-top espresso pot every morning,"

he said. "But I haven't developed too many rituals yet since I don't have children."

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