Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The meaning of honour

On Saturday I was interviewed by a sociologist who is writing a paper on the British honour system and what honour means to people and whether the right people are honoured in the Queen's birthday lists and the like.

I have never subjected myself to this type of experience before, but the author (let's call her M) is the sister of a neighbour, and I was asked, and I thought it would be an interesting experience.

My only fear was that I would be expected to talk on the subject at length, but I don't really know much about it, so I was happy to hear the interview would be Q&A-based.

"Q&A-based"... That's a looser term than I might have anticipated. The first Q was, "So, tell me about yourself."

Thing is, I can talk about myself until the cows come home. I'm "wind me up and watch me go" on the subject of me. It is the one subject that I reckon I know more about than anyone else on the planet. So off I went.

Every once in a while, M would interrupt to have me elaborate on a point, or to go back to something I'd said earlier to contrast against something I'd said later, or to ask a new question and take me in a different direction.

In all, we Q&A'd for about an hour and a quarter or so, and I was actually quite surprised at some of the things that came out of it. Not total surprise, I suppose, because I know myself pretty well; more surprising was the way that a total stranger will take that information and interpret it into something.

That interpretation may be wrong, of course. But when M was saying stuff back to me and (not in a bad way) pigeonholing me, she was right every time.

All of this background stuff is essential for setting my views of the honour system into some sort of context in order to see how people from different socioeconomic groups perceive the system. The whole thing got a little more complicated when I had to talk about things other than me, like honour and OBEs, MBEs, etc.

But it was a fascinating experiment for me, and I'm looking forward to reading the transcript and then doing the follow-up interview in a few weeks' time.

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Blogger Martha Elaine Belden said...

cool... you'll have to share the write-up with us... if you're allowed.

you'd be a GREAT person to interview, mr. asterisk. sometime we should exchange blog interviews (as i did with red once)

17 July, 2007 15:54  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Martha: I may be able to share selected highlights. We could maybe do that interview thing sometime, sure!

18 July, 2007 08:28  
Blogger Glamourpuss said...

As far as I can see, the honours system has very, very little to do with honour. Or merit.

But then I'm a cynical puss.


18 July, 2007 10:01  
Blogger Milla said...

I agree with Puss on this one.

And maybe because I'm Italian, for me the word Honour will always be associated with the Mafia.
And I think Honour and being honourable are two different things...oh but that's another story.

Funny that your post about the lady interviewing you came just when I was writing to you about the style change over time. According to what you wrote here, I was totally WRONG! ahhahahahahaaha

18 July, 2007 10:18  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

G/puss: That's part of what I said to the interviewer. And that "real people" would no doubt award wholly different people.

Milla: Yep. For me, honour and mafia aren't necessarily synonymous, but obviously I understand your point of reference. And yeah, I like to keep you on your toes, y'know?!

18 July, 2007 16:53  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

your interview sounds like it was a good little experiment. One I'd be interested in reading follow up on. Of course you should feel free to change the names and dates and such.

18 July, 2007 23:04  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

RefPo: Cool. Will do!

19 July, 2007 12:10  

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