By Michaela Caroline Benson
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Additional info for The British in Rural France: Lifestyle Migration and the Ongoing Quest for a Better Way of Life
Chapter 1 also critically assesses the explanations presented in the now seminal texts on British migration to rural France and builds upon them to draw attention to the cultural determinants that drive this form of migration. In particular, the chapter focuses on the British middle-class idealization of the French countryside, using this as an example to argue that this form of lifestyle migration needs to be interpreted through a framework that is sensitive to structural and material prerogatives; economic, social and political contexts; culturally significant imaginings; as well as more individualized circumstances prompting migration.
Undoubtedly, we need to maintain a sense of distance between our respondents and ourselves if we are to conduct effective analysis, but this is a social and intellectual distance (Hammersley and Atkinson 1995). Paradoxically, it is precisely this distance that ethnographers reflexively try to dissolve as they gradually enter the ‘culturally intimate’ (Herzfeld 1997) worlds of their respondents. ). Fundamentally, the assumption underlying the privileging of fieldwork abroad is that there is little to learn about our own societies.
Individual hunters, in Bauman’s terms, thus venture into uncharted territory, hoping that they will find the ultimate in happiness, only to be followed by more hunters pursuing the same dream. In this manner, what individuals seek undergoes continual transformation and is constantly redefined as they respond to and resist external conditions, obstacles to their ‘chosen vision of the “good life” ’ (Bauman 2008: 53).