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The path to economic crisis in Scotland

This book takes a body of ethnographic data collected in 2001-2, during a year's fieldwork at the Bank of Scotland (BoS) and HBOS, and revisits it from the perspective of the 2014-16 period. It explores the tension between the 'ethnographic present' of the author's original research and the unavoidable alteration of perspective on that data that the economic crisis has created. The original research had been planned to take place in the BoS but in 2001, before the research began, BoS had merged with the Halifax to form HBOS. The book provides a long-term historical perspective on BoS/HBOS, from inception to the 2008 financial crisis, and then a consideration of the nature of historical explanation, under the rubric of 'theory'. The main attempts to explain the proximate causes of the 2008 crisis, as well as more encompassing political economic arguments about the trajectory and dynamics of capitalism are examined. The concept of 'culture' as applied to both national groups, Scots and English, and organizations, BoS and Halifax, are also dealt with. The book examines other governing concepts such as organisational change in the business world and social change, identity and the way Scottish and English experience their own personhood, and comparative nature of ethnographic research. The conclusion reviews and draws together the themes of the book, returning to the overarching question of historical perspective and explanation.

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Doing ethnography and thinking comparatively

7 Comparison: doing ethnography and thinking comparatively The concept of comparison that shapes this chapter functions somewhat differently from the concepts organising the previous three chapters (culture, change and identity). Those served as analytic lenses to bring out particular dimensions of the data. Comparison here is primarily a matter of relating the ethnographic data to other experiences which lie beyond that research. I am using comparison to draw out further themes from the data, and to revisit some we have already explored, but also to pull back

in Salvage ethnography in the financial sector
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Ethnography, history and the vagaries of research

1 Introduction: ethnography, history and the vagaries of research This book takes a body of ethnographic data collected in 2001–2, during a year’s fieldwork at the Bank of Scotland and HBOS, and revisits it from the perspective of the present, that is, the time of writing this book (c.2014–16). That present is one in which the global banking and financial crisis that emerged around 2008 has had devastating effects on several banks, including this one. My original research had been planned to take place in the Bank of Scotland (BoS) but earlier in 2001, before

in Salvage ethnography in the financial sector
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’. It also has to partake of some of the current difficulties of its new parent organisation. These include charges of money laundering (along with other banks) made by the US government, charges of tax avoidance brought by HM Revenue and Customs and recent ongoing repayments to customers who were mis-sold payment protection insurance. But none of these controversies seem to pose fundamental threats to Lloyds plc. They are in a sense par-for-the-course problems for contemporary large banking groups. The Salvage Ethnography.indb 123 24/05/2017 15:07:39 124 Salvage

in Salvage ethnography in the financial sector
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Explaining financial crisis and conceptualising capitalism

3 Theory: explaining financial crisis and conceptualising capitalism This chapter provides a theoretical frame, both for abstracting more general lessons from the historical account in Chapter 2 and for putting the more fine-grained, micro-level, ethnographic perspective of the following chapters in an interpretive context. After a brief discussion of the purpose of theorising in this instance, the body of the chapter will move from a discussion of attempts to theorise the post2008 economic crisis, to one of wider efforts to theorise the political

in Salvage ethnography in the financial sector
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Discourses of agency and progress in organisational change

efforts to manage staff in an unstable environment, and an existential issue experienced at an often intensely personal level. I begin with some ethnographic examples of how change was being articulated and wrestled with in some of the staff training courses I attended. Then in the middle, as in the previous chapter, I offer an ‘interlude’ of more theoretical reflections on the concept of social change and its relevance to the material. I then return to look more closely at aspects of how change was being represented in everyday talk and experienced by bank staff (see

in Salvage ethnography in the financial sector

This article will investigate the process of confronting death in cases of the disappeared of the last military dictatorship in Argentina. Based on the exhumation and identification of the body of a disappeared person, the article will reflect on how the persons social situation can be reconfigured, causing structural changes within the family and other groups. This will be followed by a discussion of the reflections generated by the anthropologist during his or her interview process, as well as an investigation into the authors own experiences in the field. This intimate relationship between the anthropologist and death, through the inevitable contact that takes place among the bodies, causes resonances in the context both of exhumations and of identifications in the anthropologists wider fieldwork.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
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Epilogue The original context of this research was the Leverhulme Nations and Regions Research Programme described in Chapter 1 and questions of the impact of constitutional change in the UK on national identity. While the ethnography itself was not directly concerned with the politics of nationalism and devolution, it perhaps makes sense here, at the end, to step back and relate the present account to the evolving politics of nationalism, interacting with economic instability, in the years since the fieldwork to the time of writing.1 One point the Leverhulme

in Salvage ethnography in the financial sector
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Nations, banks and the organisation of power and social life

social science concept of culture more closely and critically in the middle of this chapter. First, I provide some examples, drawing on field notes, of how culture appeared in my fieldwork. Ethnographic intimations The term ‘culture’ and its problematisation arose in preliminary scoping meetings I had even before regular fieldwork had begun. My entry into the Bank as a field site had been negotiated between figures at fairly high levels in both the Bank of Scotland and the University of Edinburgh, mobilising social connections and organisational ties. Three people in

in Salvage ethnography in the financial sector
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Struggles with personhood, nationhood and professional virtue

6 Identity: struggles with personhood, nationhood and professional virtue The multi-study research project of which this ethnographic study is a part was originally conceived in the context of then recent devolution in Scotland and constitutional change in the UK more generally. We were trying to get a finer-grained understanding of how national identity works on a banal, everyday basis (Billig 1995) and how it connects to personhood and individual identity (Cohen 1996). Thus we chose to explore Scottish national identity within the mundane frame of a large

in Salvage ethnography in the financial sector