• Personal life, pragmatism and bricolage.

      Duncan, Simon (2011)
      Individualisation theory misrepresents and romanticises the nature of agency as a primarily discursive and reflexive process where people freely create their personal lives in an open social world divorced from tradition. But empirically we find that people usually make decisions about their personal lives pragmatically, bounded by circumstances and in connection with other people, not only relationally but also institutionally. This pragmatism is often non-reflexive, habitual and routinised, even unconscious. Agents draw on existing traditions - styles of thinking, sanctioned social relationships, institutions, the presumptions of particular social groups and places, lived law and social norms - to ¿patch¿ or ¿piece together' responses to changing situations. Often it is institutions that ¿do the thinking¿. People try to both conserve social energy and seek social legitimation in this adaption process, a process which can lead to a ¿re-serving¿ of tradition even as institutional leakage transfers meanings from past to present, and vice versa. But this process of bricolage will always be socially contested and socially uneven. In this way bricolage describes how people actually link structure and agency through their actions, and can provide a framework for empirical research on doing family.
    • Understanding tradition: marital name change in Britain and Norway

      Duncan, Simon; Ellingsæter, A.L.; Carter, J. (Sage, 2020-09)
      Marital surname change is a striking example of the survival of tradition. A practice emerging from patriarchal history has become embedded in an age of de-traditionalisation and women’s emancipation. Is the tradition of women’s marital name change just some sort of inertia or drag, which will slowly disappear as modernity progresses, or does this tradition fulfil more contemporary roles? Are women and men just dupes to tradition, or alternatively do they use tradition to further their aims? We examine how different approaches - individualisation theory, new institutionalism and bricolage - might tackle these questions. This examination is set within a comparative analysis of marital surname change in Britain and Norway, using small qualitative samples. We find that while individualisation and new institutionalism offer partial explanations, bricolage offers a more adaptable viewpoint.