Press coverage from other years
SIRC in the News
Press coverage from 2006
- Hamilton Spectator — 30.12.2006
Can you really never be too rich or too thin? Once upon a time, the smallest size in women's clothing was 4. That's ancient history now. Those who thought the trend hit rock bottom with size 0 a few years ago are in for a shock. The subzero fashion era has already arrived. The Sacramento Bee reports that Banana Republic started selling size 00 online this year, and other designers are following suit. The average model stands 5 feet 9, weighs 110 pounds and wears a 0 or a 2, according to the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford, England. The average American woman is 5 feet 4, weighs about 155 pounds and wears size 14.
- Futurematters — 15.12.2006
Mouse rage syndrome identified. Boffins at Blighty'S Social Issues Research Centre have identified a new illness which they claim is caused by badly-designed web pages ...
Dubbed 'Mouse Rage', the syndrome was uncovered by a study of 2,500 Web users. In a test, the SIRC used a 'Perfect Web site' that functioned well as a control. Then it presented punters with a stream of 'crazy graphics and slow-loading pages.' Only a few remained calm while the others showed stress and anxiety.
- Living trends. People are increasingly changing the way in which they make important decisions. A report commissioned by eBay and the Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC) identified a new group of ‘Life Shoppers’ who make life changing decisions based on fashion, impulse and systematic wearing down of all available options. So called ‘grown-up’ decisions (marriage, children jobs) are being made later and later in life, life shopping decisions will be delayed until well into peoples 20s and 30s. It is predicted that by 2012 30 will be the new ‘official’ age for transition into adulthood.
- Pittsburg Post-Gazette — 11.12.2006
How low can you go? Could subzero become the next status symbol for size-conscious women? The ideal women's size has been shrinking for years, and now more designers and retailers are introducing a less-than-zero size, sometimes called ‘subzero’ or 00 ... Most women just aren't built that way. The average American woman is 5-foot-4, weighs about 155 pounds and wears size 14. The average model? She stands at 5-foot-9, weighs 110 pounds and wears a 0 or a 2, according to the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford, England.
- BBC History Magazine — December 2006
Football. Most football fans use the internet for gossip, news, results and statistics. In the run up to this year's World Cup, James Ferguson, author of World Class: an Illustrated History of Caribbean Football, dribbled his way round the web to locate the best history sites ... Meanwhile, "hooliganism, the less attractive face of the Beautiful Game, is explored in an interesting survey from the Oxford-based Social Issues Research Centre."
- BBC News Magazine — 30.11.2006
Is this what you call junk food? Junk food is rarely out of the news these days, but the tag seems to be applied very selectively. So do we really know what is good and bad for us? ... According to Peter Marsh, of the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford, which studies food and obesity issues, the term ‘junk’ has become "simply a matter of aesthetics" a way of disapproving of certain foods. "Some may argue that it is a matter of content levels of fat, sugar and salt," he says. "But in that case, foie gras, îles flottantes, most patés and so on are also junk."
- Personnel Today — 23.11.2006
Months of sleepless nights threaten health and safety of UK workplaces as England's cricketers begin defence of Ashes in Australia. Health and safety officers will be on red alert today as tired employees struggle on after the first night of the Ashes cricket series Down Under ... However, the Social Issues Research Centre found that 63% of men and 52% of women said sporting success had a positive impact on their approach to work. And 47% of women and 40% of men said that sporting success lifted their mood and made them more productive in their jobs.
- Taipei Times — 23.11.2006
How low can you go? Downsizing takes on a whole new meaning as fashion companies are introducing subzero clothes sizes ... Take a minute to size up today's reigning fashionistas (think Mischa Barton, Nicole Richie, Lindsay Lohan and Kate Bosworth) and one common trait is obvious: They're all itty-bitty, even bordering on scary-thin. Today, models weigh about 23 percent less than the average woman, according to the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford, England.
- International Herald Tribune. — 21.11.2006
In some British personals, weirder is better. Kate Fox, a cultural anthropologist and author of Watching the English compared the London Review personals to an advertising campaign several years ago that showed people recoiling in revulsion from Marmite, the curiously popular gloppy-as-molasses yeast byproduct that functions as a sandwich spread, a snack or a base for soup. "An advertising campaign focusing exclusively on the disgust people feel for your product strikes a lot of people as perverse," Fox said in an interview.
- Sacramento Bee — 17.11.2006
Subzero: Now it's a size? Experts worry it could cause eating disorders as some women try to shrink to fit into the fashions. The ideal women's size has been shrinking for years, and now more designers and retailers are introducing a less-than-zero size, sometimes called "subzero" or 00 ... The average model? She stands at 5-foot-9, weighs 110 pounds and wears a zero or a 2, according to the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford, England.
- Observer — 12.11.2006
Don't blame the drink; blame the pressure to drink. A few years ago, anthropologists working for the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford showed British pub-goers as an exotic tribe whose strange rituals made them as mysterious to outsiders as the mountain peoples of Papua New Guinea. After visiting 800 pubs in what must have been one of the most gruelling exercises in field research ever undertaken by the University of Oxford, Kate Fox and her fellow scholars produced Passport to the Pub (published 1996), a guide for unwary tourists.
They told them never to imitate the French couple the researchers saw storming out after 25 minutes because 'the waiters hadn't served them'. The American they overheard telling the landlord of the Red Lion in a charming village that it was 'much nicer than the other pubs I have visited in the Red Lion chain' didn't get Britain either.
- Daily Nexus (California) — 07.11.2006
Ignore Deflating Commercials and Love Your Body. In our society today, "thin is in." The fashion and film world creates unrealistic standards of size. Where zero is the new two and four is the new six. Models and actresses are much thinner than the average woman. Many advertisers promote rail-thin women as beautiful when it is often unattainable for most women. In fact, according to the Social Issues Research Centre, less than five percent of the female population naturally possesses the ideal body type portrayed in advertising. The average weight of a model is 23 percent lower than that of an average woman. This picture of perfection is not only unattainable, but discouraging.
- Herald (Glasgow) — 17.10.2006
Why fat is now the thin end of the wedge. Failed in that job interview? Body mass index the wrong side of 30? Hmm, thought as much. It's because you're fat, isn't it? Admit it: you're a pie … But are things so gloomy? Apart from anything else, the adoption of BMI as a measurement of a person's health, let alone their worth, is utterly imprecise. As every doctor knows, BMI is the crudest of tools. It doesn't distinguish between mass due to body fat and mass due to muscular physique; nor does it take account of the distribution of fat. Last year the Social Issues Research Centre, an independent think-tank, concluded that ministers and health lobbyists were using an outdated BMI system to create a doomsday scenario for public health. It claimed the government was exaggerating to support ill-conceived health policies and that international standards of obesity - which also compare body mass and height but include a broader sample - suggested that fewer than half of the British children said to be at risk are actually so. Eat,drink , be merry and moderate. Be fat and clever. Look happy. And, were it not so terribly unhealthy, be sure to take all discussions of BMI with a pinch of salt.
- Times — 12.10.2006
The loneliness of the long-distance teetotaller. It makes us ill and tastes quite strange, but there seems to be no end to our fascination with alcohol, even as we get older. Looser inhibitions, sure — but most often that ends up in a mess of slights and rows … Everybody knows why people drink and a review a few years ago of by the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford of more than 5,000 studies and research documents confirmed the obvious: for calm, animation and euphoria.
- Western Mail — 25.09.2006
Experts say fear won't make us work out. Trying to scare people into taking more exercise or becoming more environmentally friendly will not work, according to research revealed today.Experts believe giving consumers information to help them set specific health and environmental goals is more effective that using scare or guilt tactics … the Social Issues Research Centre, in Oxford, warned that a common response to authoritarian warnings is the "forbidden-fruit effect". They found that the constant stream of warnings and bans has led to deliberate defiance — most notably during when beef on the bone was banned but sales of rib-of-beef increased dramatically.
- Sun — 08.09.2006
Something for the weekend. The Baby Development Test, by Dr Dorothy Einon (Vermilion, £7.99): Should my baby be sitting up? When should my little one use the potty? Parents from all walks of life ask themselves these same questions time and again. A recent survey by the Social Issues Research Centre revealed many parents wanted more help with regards to their tots' development. Leading psychologist Dr Einon has come to the rescue with this guide, allowing you to chart your baby's growth and test senses and mobility. A useful read that allows parents to remember that while some babies develop quickly, they are all different -and those with lower scores have plenty of time to catch up.
- BBC News Magazine — 17.08.2006
The secret life of the round. Buying drinks in rounds can damage your health, says the Scottish Executive. But the round is about much more than drinking, it's a complex social activity that keeps the peace. Getting a round in is a social minefield, with elaborate unwritten rules and punishments for anyone who gets it wrong. The custom of buying drinks in rounds has been criticised by the Scottish Executive, with a health minister warning that it can pressurise people into drinking too much. But Dr Peter Marsh, the co-director of the Social Issues Research Centre, says that below the surface the pub round is a complicated, highly-regulated social ritual. Being in a round means being accepted as a member of a group. And once inside this group, there are rules to be carefully observed about when and how often drinkers should be heading to the bar. "Buying a round in a pub marks you out as a member of a very specific group — and by watching who buys drinks for whom, and in turn who receives drinks from whom, you get an immediate idea of the social dynamic there," says Dr Marsh.
- Independent — 13.08.2006
The class of 2006: As pupils await their A-level results, they also face an uncertain future. Dr Peter Marsh, a chartered psychologist, said that the worldview of the children of the "noughties" generation has already been influenced by the threat of terrorism and they have a much more sober approach to planning their futures. "These are people growing up in the decade where their formative years have been about 9/11, tsunamis and London bombings," said Dr Marsh, director of the Social Issues Research Centre. "They are in many ways a more cautious generation because nothing is safe or guaranteed in life. Going to university is not enough, they have to be players."
- Metro — 25.07.2006
It's official, we love our mobiles. Hundreds of thousands of Britons are addicted to their mobile phones, a study has found. More than 90 per cent of 16,500 people questioned said they could not get through the day without using their phone, while most youngsters said they were more important than TV … Kate Fox, director of the Social Issues Research Centre, said the study showed how mobiles had become the 'new garden fence' and brought communities closer together. 'Mobiles have become a kind of social lifeline in a fragmented and isolating world,' she said.
- Times of India — 25.07.2006
SMS influencing romance. From dating invitations to sexually explicit comments, mobile text messaging is slowly changing the way most young people approach romantic relationships, a survey conducted across Britain has shown … "When it comes to dating, a text gives you that chance to compose your thoughts, rather than having to speak spontaneously in a phone call with that person," The Times' daily quoted the Director of the Social Issues Research Centre as saying, on Monday.
- Glasgow Herald — 25.07.2006
So is there any point in getting a degree? Kate Fox of the Social Issues Research Centre says technology has allowed us to return to a pre-industrial age when few ventured beyond the security of their village. If my entire world shrank to just my text database, I'd be really anxious.
- NHS Primary Care Question Answering Service — 24.07.2006
Is there any research on levels of student obesity as compared to the general population?
Answer: Unfortunately, we could find no specific information on student obesity versus the general population. The closest we came to was a breakdown, by age group, of the general population.
In 2005 the Social Issues Research Centre has produced an analysis of obesity based on the 2003 Health Survey for England . This includes two graphs of obesity based on age breakdown (from 18-24 to 75+). These are reproduced below."
- Times — 24.07.2006
How mobiles changed chat-up lines. The joys of text are playing an increasingly important part in the nation’s love life, according to new research. Such is the impact of mobile phones, that they are determining our relationships - how we pursue them, how we protect them and, occasionally, how we end them … Kate Fox, director of the Social Issues Research Centre,said that the abbreviated form of language used in text messages lent itself to romantic pursuits. "With texting, you can have very brief, frequent, casual conversations," she said. "When it comes to dating, a text gives you that chance to compose your thoughts, rather than having to speak spontaneously in a phone call with that person."
- The Australian — 24.07.2006
Text messages changing relationships: survey. More than half of mobile phone users aged 18 to 24 have sent or received an invitation to a date via text message, while a similar number have exchanged sexually explicit messages, the study by the London School of Economics showed. Just more than half agreed that flirting via text message would be a form of cheating on their partner. "It acts as a kind of subliminal zone, an exclusive forum where the normal social rules are suspended," Kate Fox, director of the Social Issues Research Centre, said. "People often say things in texts which they would never say in 'real life'."
- Observer — 23.07.2006
Women use mobiles to deter chat-ups. 'Women are using mobile phones as a symbolic bodyguard, in the way that they used to use a newspaper or magazine as a psychological barrier to deter people from approaching them,' said Fox, author of Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour. 'What is particularly interesting is that they'll pretend to scroll through messages, or even pretend to be talking on it if they think you're looking at them, but don't want interaction.'
- Times — 22.07.2006
Driving each other round the bend. Peter Marsh, the author of Driving Passion: The Psychology of the Car (Faber and Faber), says that where human beings are concerned cars are about everything except getting from A to B. "At one level you can see cars as an extension of home territory; people fart and pick their noses in a car in a way that they never would in public. But cars also change the dynamics between people. People are not only physically closer, but psychologically closer; there’s something about a car that’s quite intimate. That can be good, and it’s no coincidence that a car is where many people have their first sexual encounters, but it can also be stressful in the wrong circumstances."
- Times — 06.07.2006
White van can. If you prick this driver, does he not bleed?
Next time you are run off the road on your bicycle by an unmarked white van, driven by a man with a mouthful of bacon butty and two mates next to him on the front seat, none of them wearing seatbelts, hold your ire. Your tormentor, White Van Man, has been more thoroughly demonised than any road user since Constantine rolled through York on his way back from quelling the Scots. He has also been studied by the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford, whose findings defy middle-class prejudice. WVM is typically married with children. He enjoys holidays in Spain and often tunes his radio to Classic FM. He treasures his van because it is his livelihood, and sincerely believes he is a careful driver. Who could stare into his traffic-crazed eyes and not see a little of herself?
- Sunday Times — 02.07.2006
I am what I am. Kate Fox 43, is a social anthropologist and author of Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour. Being a small, blonde female is an asset in my work because people see me as harmless and non-threatening … I am never bored. Never. My mother would not allow the word. She would say: "You have a brain: you cannot be bored." Listen to gossip. It may not be true, but it will tell you what types of behaviour are and are not acceptable.
- Scotsman — 30.06.2006
Show some pity for man in white van. According to the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford — which, incredibly, has carried out a serious study into the personality traits, driving skills and, strangely, pet preferences of WVM — they may actually deserve our sympathy. According to its findings, WVM can often be found singing along to classical music while driving, he — and it's nearly always a he, as only four per cent of WV drivers are women — is often self-employed, which means his precious van is his livelihood and pranging it up the back of a double decker at the traffic lights isn't really best policy if he wants to put food on the table next week.
- Motley Fool — 07.06.2006
Three things to worry about now. When you eat, do you worry about choking? When you walk across the street, do you suspect a car might hit you? When you go out drinking, are you concerned that you might trip over and injure yourself? No? So why do you worry about terrorist attacks, bird flu and MRSA? A report from Prudential and the Social Issues Research Centre shows that the things that Britons worry about most include terrorist attacks (38%) violent crime (31%) superbugs (18%) and bird flu (18%). Nearly two out of five of us (38%) worry a lot, apparently. To some of you, the most frightening experience in your life would be getting on a London tube and sitting down next to a Chinese chicken merchant who's carrying a basket of livestock on the way to your hospital appointment. Well that's just wrong! I say get a grip! Stop focusing on remote and statistically improbable risks. We should focus on everyday problems.
- Easier Finance News — 07.06.2006
Brits worry about the 'wrong' things. We are a nation of worriers - but we worry about the 'wrong' things. That's the conclusion of the first 'National Risk Report' from savings giant Prudential and the Social Issues Research Centre. More Brits say they are worried about being a victim of terrorists, bird flu or superbugs than they are about house price falls, stress in the workplace or slipping into serious debt.
- Scotsman — 01.06.2006
Sport scores positive effect in workplace. A study published yesterday by professional services recruitment consultancy, Hudson, has found that sport can be a powerful tool for improved performance in the Capital's workplaces. Rather than being a hindrance to productivity as is widely assumed, the nation's fascination with sport can generate social and financial benefits at work … The study explores how businesses can harness the positive effects produced by sport at work to give a significant lift to morale and productivity. Detailed qualitative research was conducted by the Social Issues Research Centre to investigate the role of sport at work via focus groups and interviews, followed by a quantitative survey of 2000 employees.
- Financial Times — 01.06.2006
Managers hold the antidote to World Cup fever. It is not unusual to read dire warnings about absenteeism before a great sporting occasion, carried on the back of surveys highlighting how shirkers will "pull sickies" to watch the big matches instead of working. But according to a study* published last week by the Social Issues Research Centre on behalf of Hudson, a recruitment company, sport can be good for the workplace. The report suggests that two common perceptions of the influence of sport may need some rethinking. The first is that watching or participating in sport gets in the way of work. The second is that mixing sport and business is a male preoccupation that excludes women from important "bonding" and networking opportunities.
- Observer — 28.05.2006
The rot starts here. Scottish children have the worst teeth in Britain. Over the last 20 years, their sugar intake has doubled. One in three of its 12-year-olds is now overweight. But can the blame really be laid at the door of sugary sweets?
… one Edinburgh NHS children's dentist told me that she thinks the efforts to change Scottish diets have now been proven just about useless. 'It's clear now that education just hasn't worked.' This is echoed by the social policy researcher Peter Marsh, who says: 'The people responsible for selling health messages have a fundamental lack of understanding about what motivates children and adolescents. You don't condition out these preferences by restriction — you just increase the preference. As a parent I know that banning foods doesn't work — the only thing that does is increasing the variety of foods that's on offer.' For the dentist — who won't be named — the only governmental effort that could make a real difference would be putting fluoride in Scottish drinking water. This was rejected in Scotland in the Seventies, when many English cities began doing it, and again two years ago, both times on the grounds that universal application of fluoride infringed the right to choose. Scots children have bled for that bit of whimsy ever since, and it's been pretty painful for the taxpayer, too.
- Personnel Today — 25.05.2006
World Cup scare stories are well off target as survey finds on-field success can be a real winner for business. The past few weeks have seen a host of scaremongering stories claiming that the World Cup is going to adversely impact productivity and attendance, but a new in-depth study has concluded that sport can in fact be a powerful tool for improved performance … Detailed qualitative research was conducted by the Social Issues Research Centre to investigate the role of sport at work, via focus groups and interviews, followed by a quantitative survey of 2,000 employees. The results found that 'talking sport' can forge bonds between employees, bridge gaps between a manager and his team, and make or break a sale.
- Sunday Herald — 21.05.2006
Mind the gap year: planning for your travels. The murder of the young British backpacker Katherine Horton on a Thai resort has reminded people of the dangers of heading off on a gap year. But although the traditional form has been for students such as Horton to take off around the world, there is another growing segment of travellers … A report by Kate Fox at the Social Issues Research Centre, last year, examined the higher emphasis that modern young adults place on personal happiness as they shift between twice as many jobs as their parents’ generation. She noted: "When in doubt, which is often, they 'go travelling', whether to escape the pressures of perfection-seeking or to search for enlightenment or fulfilment or 'something'".
- Oxford Press (Ohio) — 04.05.2006
Anxious grads ponder the pitfalls and pluses of their twenties. This weekend, thousands of Miami University graduates will flip that tassel and kiss life as they’ve known it goodbye. For some, a road map waits to guide them on their journey to the ever daunting "real world." For others, it’s not so clear. Whatever the case, all fit a similar profile - ambitious, but confused twenty-somethings distinguished by their behavior and attitudes from past generations. According to recent research done by The Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC), anthropologists are referring to this rising group as "Young Experimenting Perfection Seekers," or Yeppies. Unlike the yuppies of the 1980s, those in their 20s are less certain and less single-mindedly materialistic than their predecessors. This group also tends to rely on experimentation before settling down in a job, relationship or on a lifestyle.
- The Grocer — 29.04.2006
The battle of the bulge. Tensions simmered over in the obesity debate at this week's Westminster Diet & Health Forum … Things started sedately enough with a succession of experts reeling off stark statistics about the "public health timebomb" of obesity … However, the mood began to turn as Dr Peter Marsh, director of the Social Issues Research Centre, questioned the robustness of the data and criticised the emotive language deployed … His main bone of contention was the standards by which childhood obesity is defined … "The international standard has been designed by the International Obesity Task Force", he pointed out. "These figures are considered to be the ones we should be using and if we do, the prevalence drops to less than two and a half times the figures we saw at the weekend."
- Western Mail — 18.04.2006
'and'. While women are scouring the aisles for healthy-eating options, what are men really filling up on? … men buying food such as Ginsters pasties from service stations is a kind of metaphor for British man's attitude to what he eats. "Men still have this tendency to see food as being like fuel," says Peter Baker, director of the Men's Health Forum. "It's there to serve a purpose." It may be, of course, that we are following a script about manhood. "There does seem to be a sense that these are 'manly' foods," says Kate Fox, a social psychologist at the Social Issues Research Centre at Oxford. "Perhaps there is something a bit 'unmanly', even effeminate, about making a healthy salad or some grilled chicken and steamed vegetables when having an evening alone."
- Newcastle Chronicle — 04.04.2006
Neighbour poll raps Geordies. A survey by Halifax Home Insurance featured in this month's House Beautiful magazine places the North East at the bottom of the list in terms of neighbourhood friendliness … Peter Marsh, of the Social Issues Research Centre who analysed the results of the Halifax survey, said: "It's possible the reason why the North East has a problem could be due to the rapidly changing nature of communities in that region, for example the move away from mining, shipbuilding and the consequent social and economic strains. "However, this research shows that Britain remains a neighbourly country, despite gloomy prognoses to the contrary."
- Medical News Today — 23.03.2006
Osteoporosis Affects Three Times More Women Than Breast Cancer. Women are at risk of premature death because they are unaware of many of the risk factors associated with osteoporosis. Almost a third of women surveyed were unaware that family history is a risk factor of the disease, according to new research conducted by YouGov and the Social Issues Research Centre ... Senior Research consultant at the Social Issues Research Centre, Francesca Kenny, conducted an investigation into the evolution of mother-daughter relationships and how they influence each other in terms of health awareness as part of the research. "Our research tells us that mothers and daughter relationships appear to be getting stronger and they are more willing to share their health concerns with each other than previous generations. Despite this, awareness of some conditions is significantly low, even when there is a hereditary factor, so it seems more communication among mothers and daughters is needed to ensure they keep each other informed of health issues, helping them both to lead longer and healthier lives."
- Times — 11.03.2006
The tribes are gathering. These days, racing is far more socially acceptable. Indeed, Cheltenham week is the first to be blocked off, each year, in many a diary. While the racing itself attracts an ever more protracted build-up, the event is also a social mecca, as described by Kate Fox in her anthropological study The Racing Tribe. "This annual tribal gathering is invariably spoken of in an affectionate, sometimes reverent manner. Criticism of it is tantamount to blasphemy . . . Cheltenham is also used as a key reference point in the tribal calendar. Just as we might speak of something happening 'before Christmas' or 'after Easter', Racing Tribe Enthusiasts will say 'We must get together after Cheltenham'."
- Times — 25.02.2006
They still have real food on the Continent, while back here we have 'nutrition' and 'calories' instead. At what point do you realise you are a pathetic, dribbling nation with a government that thinks you're dumb enough to be spoon-fed? When someone has the brilliant idea of labelling your food red, amber and green according to its healthiness, because you wouldn't know broccoli if it bit you … As Robin Fox of Social Issues Research Centre notes: "Food fashion thrives on change. The vast industry can only survive if people's tastes are induced to changeI middle-class readers feel guilty if they don't 'keep up'" — or know when it's asparagus season. Fox explains that the problem is not "You are what you eat" — it's "You eat what you are". This would explain why lifespans are increasing everywhere except in places like the Calton in Glasgow, where 37 per cent of households are jobless and life expectancy for men is 53.9. It's not about traffic-light labelling, it's about the economy, stupid. The rich eat well, the poor eat badly.
- Boston Globe — 19.02.2006
A struggle to redefine 'britishness'. Britons are famously ambivalent about patriotism, according to anthropologist Kate Fox, who wrote a book on English behavior and who says patriotism violates the values of moderation and modesty that are part of being British. ''The English have a horror of earnestness, especially the sort of heart-on-sleeve sentimentality and solemnity indulged in by other nations expressing patriotic pride," she said, citing Americans as an example.
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette — 16.02.2006
Sweetie, you're a silly cow. Speaking of the English and alcohol, we present a dim view of British blokes from Kate Fox, an Oxford-based social anthropologist and author of "Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behavior." She makes it sound like it's a miracle that any mating at all goes on over there. In Britain, Fox says, flirting tends to be alcohol-fueled to cover up fears of intimacy and rejection. "The British male is either reticent, tongue-tied and awkward, or boorish and crass, and he usually consumes too much alcohol," she told Agence France Presse. "English male flirting tends to be very circuitous and involves a lot of insults rather than compliments. I've had to explain lots of times to foreign friends that 'silly cow' can really be a term of endearment."
- Agence France Presse — 12.02.2006
Be my virtual Valentine. Or Not. Relationships can be built very quickly, with people often feeling they have found a soulmate, opening up and pouring out their feelings. But [Kate] Fox, who works with the Oxford-based Social Issues Research Centre, advised would-be lovers not to put off for too long a face-to-face meeting otherwise "you don't know if the chemistry is there." "It can be very embarrassing if you've poured out your whole history to someone only to find you are not sexually attracted to them. Where do you go from there, how do you then reject them?
- Independent (S. Africa)) — 12.02.2006
Looking for love in cyberspace. …Valentine's Day is here again … As lovers the world over prepare for a romantic candle-lit night on Tuesday February 14, millions of others have a different date — with their computer and the other lonely hearts searching for love online … For social anthropologist Kate Fox, the growing use of the Internet is almost a return to the days of Jane Austen and good old-fashioned courtships carried out by correspondence. "As the author William Gibson said 'It's not really a place and it's not really a space'. What you get is a state of cultural remission. Where the social controls are relaxed and even reversed," she said.
- Independent — 05.02.2006
Fifteen minutes of blame. "The English have a strong and distinctive sense of fair play," says Kate Fox, social anthropologist and author of Watching the English. "That gives us a tendency to favour the underdog, the person who has hit rock bottom, but they have to act in a particular way to persuade us to engage with them. In the US, for example, someone whose career had been destroyed by a scandal would have to appear on TV, grovel, weep and wear their heart on their sleeve as they confessed to everything in a dramatic way. But that's the last thing the English want to see. We prefer moderation in all things. Barrymore got it absolutely right — the rueful smile, the sad look, the permanent air of saying, 'Oh dear' I am sorry.'"
- Independent — 05.02.2006
The bank that likes to spur on our inner horse. The English animal thing runs parallel to the country one. No nation has a population so distant from wild or working animals. And no nation, as Kate Fox explains in her clever Watching the English, feels such closeness, such emotional release, with its pets. The things we practically never say to people, the touchy-feeliness Brits avoid, all come out in moments with a dog. And all the basic stuff- humping your leg, shit on the sofa — that's just amusing and adorable scallywag style in your Labrador. I'm deeply metropolitan but my eight-year-old heart responded to the dog that saved his family from a panther (and died doing it).
- Edmonton Journal — 02.02.2006
Boomers redefine the golden years. Millions of Canadians are pushing back the frontiers of old age, insisting that life in their 50s and 60s is their prime time, the best years of their lives … "I had heard people say that life begins at 50, but as a scientist I needed evidence to believe such statements." Now I have it, wrote Kate Fox, Co-Director of the Social Issues Research Centre, which conducted the study.
- Mail on Sunday — 29.01.2006
The Websites That Encourage Anorexia.These insidious sites offer 'support and guidance' to anorexics and bulimics, encouraging them to put their lives at risk. The websites, known as either pro-ana (pro-anorexia) or pro-mia (pro-bulimia), have mushroomed in the past few years with names like I Love You to the Bones, Hungry for Perfection, the Art of Reduction, and Living on Oxygen, and they use encouragement and the fear of disapproval to reinforce their power … As the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford, which also carried out detailed research into the sites, says: 'The emphasis is moved from self-destruction to self-control. And particularly sinister is the fact that the sites reinforce alienation from parents.'
- Globe and Mail (Canada) — 28.01.2006
Spinster? Is that like a knitter? Until last month, the Cambridge Dictionary defined spinster as a "woman who is not married, especially a woman who is no longer young and seems unlikely ever to marry." … some experts are unhappy to see "spinster" excluded. "Why not just mark 'spinster' down as archaic?" asks social anthropologist Kate Fox, of the Social Issues Research Centre. "What happens when someone's reading an old Jane Austen book and lands on 'spinster' in the text?"
- Guardian — 25.01.2006
Teaching 'white van man' how to drive. The roadhogging reputation of Britain's 2.5 million "white van men" is to be tackled through free driving lessons from the government to stamp out practices such as tailgating and stomach-churning unexpected braking … According to the Social Issues Research Centre, they were originally given the tag of "white van man" on BBC Radio 2 by presenter Sarah Kennedy in 1997. In a study, the SIRC said van drivers were perceived as a "sub-human species of thuggish roadhog" with a reluctance to signal turns and an enthusiasm for cutting up other motorists.
- Times — 25.01.2006
Lessons for white van man. White van man, a class of road user that includes some of the country’s most notorious tailgaters, is to be provided with free driving lessons by the Government … A study by the Social Issues Research Centre said van drivers were perceived as a "sub- human species of thuggish roadhog" with an enthusiasm for cutting up other motorists.
- Rocket — 20.01.2006
Women should not worry about body shape. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 7.4 million Americans had some sort of cosmetic surgery in 2000 and more than 80 percent of them were women. Our jaded idea of what is "beautiful" distorts our own self images, and this is the reason I believe so many girls and women have such low self-esteem. Even more appalling, the Social Issues Research Centre in the United Kingdom stated that more than 80 percent of fourth grade girls have been on a fad diet.
- The Hindu — 14.01.2006
Gossip, the medicine? You no longer need to feel guilty about gossiping provided it's not harmful … A Social Issues Research Centre believes, "Mobile gossip restores our sense of community, and provides an antidote to the pressures and alienation of modern life. Mobiles are a `social lifeline' in a fragmented and isolating world." And if you think women are more prone to whisper-over-the-fence, non-productive talk, zilch it. Men just label it as "necessary survey". They critique restaurants (the coffee is excellent, prices are reasonable, but go early), cricket (Ganguly or not?), politics (will the alliance break?) weather, colleagues and the boss. Women thrash out TV serials, recipes, personal aches and pains, instant remedies, in-laws, colleagues and the boss.
- New York Times [subscription required] — 11.01.2006
Ever Since Falstaff, Getting Sloshed Is Cricket. For Britons, alcohol is a relaxant, an emollient, a crutch, an excuse. In her book 'Watching the English,'' the social anthropologist Kate Fox argues that drinking does not turn English people into unattractive louts, but rather allows them to express the unattractive loutishness latent in their character: in other words, they drink so that they will have license to behave badly. "By blaming the booze, we sidestep the uncomfortable question of why the English, so widely admired for their courtesy, reserve and restraint, should also be renowned for their oafishness, crudeness and violence," Ms. Fox writes.
- Sydney Morning Herald — 11.01.2006
The Idealists. "Yuppies [in the 1980s] knew what they wanted — money and status — and they knew how to get it," says Kate Fox, director of the Oxford Social Issues Research Centre. "Yeppies are often not quite sure what they want, some vague notion of fulfilment, usually, and even less sure about how to achieve it."
- Sydney Morning Herald — 08.01.2006
Britons take their own sweet time to embrace small change. The English anthropologist Kate Fox, in her excellent recent book Watching The English, explains that her island of birth exudes a powerful attachment to compromise. "The English Civil War was fought between supporters of the monarchy and supporters of Parliament — and what did we end up with? Well, er, both. A compromise," she writes. "A truly English protest march would see us all chanting 'What Do We Want? GRADUAL CHANGE! When Do We Want It? IN DUE COURSE!' " It's interesting, then, and instructive that even in this land of supreme change aversion, the decision to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry — and adopt — has created very little by way of disturbance.