Flapjacks and Feudalism: Social Mobility and Class in The Archers | Section 5 It Takes a Village… | Chapter 15
This study examines the discursive accounts of civil society in a rural English village to understand what these reveal about contemporary political discourses. It employs a critical discourse analysis of the conversational interactions of Ambridge residents. The sample comprised all recorded conversations referencing charities, volunteering and civic action drawn from the two-week period corresponding with the change in UK Prime Minister (July 2019). Using three analytical tools derived from extant theory, it considers the salient political ideology underpinning these social interactions. These tools are illustrated with earlier examples of individual civil activities such as the oat-based civil disobedience of a respected older resident. This analysis scrutinises the philanthropic nature of Peggy Woolley’s Ambridge Conservation Trust. The fraught process of village fete planning is cited as exemplifying conventional decision-making mechanisms. Problems of staffing a community shop are considered in the light of an increasing political reliance on community volunteers replacing paid staff. Thus, the relative impact of Thatcher, Blair, Cameron and May are considered in exchanges between Ambridge residents from Lynda and Robert Snell to Jazzer McCreery and Jill Archer. The aim is to explore what Ambridge’s civil society tells us about Boris Johnson’s Britain.