• Creels and Catenary wires: Creating Community through Winter Lights Displays

      Bennett, Julia; University of Chester (Sage, 2022-03-22)
      Lighting up darkness is a material practice shared across many cultures. Lighting up winter darkness is a particular concern in urban areas in order to make urban spaces feel safer and more welcoming. Temporary lights, often characterized as ‘Christmas’ or ‘Winter’ lights, are installed over the darkest period of the year (December in the northern hemisphere) in town and city centres to attract shoppers and tourists. This paper examines the lights displays installed over the Christmas / New Year period in two British towns. In each case the lights are installed by volunteers, who also arrange a ‘switch on’ community celebration. The research argues that the architecture of the lights signifies and reinforces the identities of the communities involved. In particular, the paper examines: the importance of infrastructure for the ongoing creation of community; the creative potential of these temporary structures for community identity; and the essential materiality of community.
    • Lockdown Scrapbook

      Bennett, Julia; University of Chester (York University, Canada, 2021-06-20)
      The Covid-19 lockdown in England began on 23rd March 2020, when people were told to stay at home and only go out for essential purposes, which included an hour’s daily exercise. These measures were originally scheduled to last for three weeks, but were then extended for a further three weeks. On 17th April, shortly after the three week extension began, I started to record my daily walks. For just over a month I chose a word which signified the current moment in some way and took photos related to my chosen theme. I posted four pictures per day, most days, on Twitter (@drjuliabennett). This is a description of the photos, the walks and news media during this period.
    • Work, identity, place and population. A changing landscape

      Bennett, Julia; University of Chester (Frontiers in Sociology, 2020-09-08)
      Taking a biographical approach, this paper uses life history narratives across four generations of families living and working in Wigan, Lancashire to analyse social and cultural changes in working life biographies over the past 80 years. Beginning with those who left school at 14, prior to the 1944 Education Act up to the present, where young people are required to remain in education until 18, the paper examines the decisions people have taken throughout their working lives. Inevitably these are shaped by structural changes, particularly to the industrial landscape. The biographical narratives allow a ‘bottom up’ approach to uncovering changes to life courses over three generations in a northern British former industrial town whilst also exploring the wider relations between self, society and place (conceptualised here as ‘taskscape’) in a post-industrial setting. Key changes over the generations are the increased ability of women to pursue careers in addition to having a family, the decrease in parental influence over career choice, and the loss of a ‘job for life’ and employment opportunities for manual workers.