Studying culture can be difficult - some people believe that Bulgarians eat bread and butter for breakfast, others favour buns and coffee, yet others - ham sandwiches. So how can we conclude what Bulgarians do? Our approach to culture is the small culture one - we observe, collect data and avoid comclusions that go too far, project uniformity and disrespect individual choices.
Our students have chosen concepts which appear well established in English culture. The conducted research following these steps:
- Choose a concept of interest to you, and typical of English culture: e.g. trainspotting, commuting, lollipop lady…..
- Check a dictionary definition in an English-English dictionary for a good description of what the concept implies. You can use OED, which will also give you the etymology and the changes through history.
- See whether you can find statistical data about the concept. Not all concepts allow for quantification, but some data – e.g. the commute for each European country, the number of people engaged in train spotting etc. – can be instructive.
- Look for uses of the concept in media. Which media have published material about the concept? What claims are made? Why?
- Check whether the concept is used in literary texts – poems, songs, films etc. Analyse critically the text – what metaphors are used, are there similes etc.? What effect is achieved with these figures of speech?
- Put all the data together and report it with reference to YOUR material. Do not attempt OVERREACHING conclusions.