Category: "Distinctions"


Pieces into place: Décroissance, another life and another politics – And making sense of the data

(Writing is progressing so fast now, that I’m not able to keep up here. This post I wrote several weeks ago, but haven’t found a free moment to post it before now. I’ll try to find some more time to keep up the blog in this final stage, as it would be good to document this part of the project as well. I’ll see what I can manage.)

Smaller and larger parts of the puzzle find their place at the moment. Phenomena that have only flickered past my attention in a superficial, disconnected manner suddenly add up to a larger picture.

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09:25:45 pmCategories: Places, Distinctions, Peculiarities

Adieu again

The clouds hang low over Oslo Airport. Typical nice autumn weather, the captain called it. The weather is not necessarily so nice in Paris either, so I’ll not jump to any easy comparison…

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08:09:49 pmCategories: Fieldwork, Distinctions

La concierge, Parisian overture part 2

This terrible and expensive mess I created during a tenth of a second’s inattentiveness and a draught from the balcony doors would never have happened if it weren’t for the French holidays. But now the holidays are over and the house has got back its gardienne (a warden, an occupation formerly known as a concierge before it became a derogatory), and then everything falls into place. She probably knows most of what goes on in the apartment block and so she knows when someone needs a plumber, electrician, carpenter or locksmith, and he can recommend them one. So she’s got a whole estate backing up her negotiating power with the local providers of practical jobs, and negotiate she can! I’ve never lived in a building with a concierge before so I’ve never had the chance to see how they excel in their work. And by golly, that was something! Here, I get to my point. Or, I’m not really sure yet what this has got to do with my fieldwork and research, but I have a feeling that to see a concierge work means to see an essential element in how this society works.

The way she negotiated over the phone for a better price and super fast accomplishment with a locksmith she knew, at the same time as she answered all the inhabitants who greeted her en passant for work after her holidays, and intermittently sort of put in place the Jeunet drunkard (who only had tried to help us, but who shrunk a little anyway as he knows he stinks of alcohol probably), called up carpenters in her own flat and gently told them off, commanded Leo and the bird dog not to get to close and so on, all in a firm but sort of generous way. Her charisma was that of a school teacher whom you just know you must behave your very best with, and if you do, things will go your way. I wouldn’t be surprised if Bourdieu have written extensively on la concierge in the French version of The Distinction, because her position in the French class hierarchy must be quite peculiar. I’ve heard a very nice documentary series on these kind of wardens on France Culture a while ago, but now I’ve seen one in action and I definitely want one for my block back in Oslo. (But of course we’ll never get a concierge, we’ve only got this shitty neoliberal caretaker service business providers who call themselves things like economical solutions and who might change a bulb after a week but never ever greet you and make sure that everything is all right).


01:46:02 pmCategories: Distinctions, Oslo

High summer

It’s high summer and hot, and I don’t feel like doing what I’m supposed to do (I’m supposed to write a book review on Being a Hindu in Oslo.) High summer makes me melancholic. At least in one area of life I see the glass as half empty, and that’s when it comes to summers. The Norwegian summers are so short, that for half-empty-glass persons like myself, it’s only really May and the beginning of June one can enjoy fully without a bittersweet aftertaste of “soon it’s over…”. July in Norway is the time for 3-4 weeks of general holiday, and Norwegian workplaces, public offices and roads and streets (where there aren’t tourists) are as empty as they are in August in Paris or Athens.

The idea and implementation of paid holidays are at least as old in Norway as it is in France. However, I didn’t hear and care about the struggle for paid holidays before I lived in France in 2006 during the 70th anniversary for the left wing coalition Le Front Populaire. They lasted for only one year, and I think – as with many things in France – their symbolic importance outclass their actual political relevance. The film La vie est à nous (The life is ours, or The people of France) by Jean Rénoir from 1936 documents the life under The Popular Front, and the photographer Willy Ronis documented the first paid vacations, together with other famous photographers. I can’t think of any social democratic reform which is really celebrated here in Norway. And it’s not until confronted with the surprise of non-European visitors I find it strange that the country slows down and the functions close off to a minimum during July. Of course, it’s the general holidays!

(I’m hooked on the page-turning writing of Balzac at the moment – perhaps another reason why my book review isn’t progressing as fast as it should – and from his description of political and social divisions and hierarchies in early 19th century France, I get a clearer understanding of why social reforms have become such potent political symbols.)

It’s already the end of July, and in mid August already the summer is waning up here in the North. I’ve never mind going to school and I even love my job, but the end of summer has always been such a melancholic period that I’ve already started giving it an occasional sad thought. Why can’t July have at least 8 weekends? Well, it’s time to go back to the book review and get done with it. Afterwards, I’ll let myself start contemplating on the epistemological reasons behind why my fieldwork in Paris has started to get a rosy shade after having been left mostly in peace in notebooks and videos for a year.

Link to Burma Shave by Tom Waits (whom the new opera house said no thanks to this July!!!) – no much to do with this post, everything to do with summer moods


11:49:19 pmCategories: Fieldwork, Politics, Distinctions

Hierarchy… work ethics and myths… and fieldwork

I realise – as I read an interesting comment in Le Monde on, of all things, why the Toyota model can’t be French – that I haven’t written any posts on hierarchy yet. My cahiers and mind are full of speculations of quite another sort than on French business and work place interaction – for instance I’m thinking about what I can make out of the coincidence that the two last books I’ve read are called the art of something (loving and fieldwork to be precise). Thus, I’m relieved to find another reason for choosing this subject for a post after such a long silence in the blogsphere; it’s unforgivable to have written 69 blog-posts from France without mentioning hierarchy and arrogance!

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Art in the suburbs

Slameur and musicians in a forum culturel in the suburb

Following the Parisian slam scene immediately led me to the suburbs. During my 9 months long first stay here, I crossed la pheripherique (ring road) only five times (except to go to the airport). Three times in the summer I attended open microphone slam events; two in Saint Denis (by Stade de France which one can se on the way to the airport) and one in Fontenay-sous-Bois (to the south east). Saint Denis is well connected to the metro system, Fontenay-sous-Bois is not, and it was a true galère to get there, according to one I travelled with. (One of our adventures dans la galère, I recounted here in Nouvelle France).

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12:41:34 pmCategories: Distinctions, Oslo, Blogging

Back home part 1 – blogging continues

Since October 2005, I’ve been blogging from my fieldwork experiences right amongst the Parisians, but from now on this is - hélas – no longer the case. I’ve returned to Oslo with all my fieldnotes, photos, impressions and sentiments, and after living and working autonomously for 10 months, I’m now trying to reintegrate into the office environment (as well as my Oslo life). Since my intention with this blog has been to document not only how my fieldwork developed, but also the rest of the research process, I’ll try to keep on blogging from the office.

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02:34:58 amCategories: Politics, Distinctions

“Liberté, Égalité, tes papiers!”

Blonde and blue-eyed as I am, I’m not treated as an immigrant here. I often think of my privileged position and how much better I’m treated than many of the locals. While the kids in Clichy-sous-Bois, and elsewhere, are asked for identity papers up to four times daily, I’ve never ever been asked for mine. That’s really lucky, because it’s actually obligatory to carry an id card here, and I always forget mine…

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