Home: the foundations of belonging

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O'Connor, Paul
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University College Cork
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To be at home means to be embedded in a dense pattern of relationships to people and place which gives rise to an inherently meaningful experience of the world. This order is neither abstract nor imposed from without, but crystallises from the shared experience of people inhabiting a concrete location. Home involves the localisation of meaning in a concrete setting and in the activities of everyday life, and this embodies an ongoing process of ‘cosmicisation’ which is vital for both social life and individual well-being. Home is not a fixed structure, static and frozen, which shuts out the external world; it is a dynamic centre which draws in experience and gives it meaning. It is a constellation of significance rather than a singular and unitary essence. It is produced by localising processes, which work to concentrate and stabilise value around a secure centre. The elaboration of seven interlinked localising processes forms the core of the thesis: The cultivation of place The accumulation of collective memory The crystallisation of life-ways and their evolution into tradition The generation of mutuality of being through sharing in fundamental biological processes which generate and preserve life Social circles of gift exchange and recognition which reinforce this mutuality of being The elaboration of symbolic boundaries The counterparts of localising processes are globalising ones. These involve the dismantling of the taken-for-granted relationships of everyday life and their reconstitution within spatially extended networks, governed by rationalised institutions, within separate spheres of economic production, commercial transactions, political administration and cultural exchange. The global market, the public arena, technological development and the bureaucratic state are all solvents of localised associations, which result in the dissipation and relativisation of value. However globalising processes never entirely displace localising ones. Even today, localising processes shape those areas of our lives which anchor our identities and provide a sense of meaning: the everyday interactions of home, family, community and intimate circles of friendship.
Home , Localisation , Globalisation , Meaning , Belonging , Place , Tradition , Boundaries , Collective memory , Gift economy
O'Connor, P. 2016. Home: the foundations of belonging. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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