In Which the Author Does Some MORE Fieldwork

I attended another Mind Body ‘Soul’ Fair this weekend in Peterborough and did the same freelisting exercise as in my last fieldwork post.  Here are some of my thoughts and initial findings from this work:

1. This event was held in a conference hall on a showground and was a good ten to fifteen minutes taxi ride from the station, unlike the Kings Lynn event where the Corn Exchange was in the centre of town. This was bound to mean that less casual footfall could be expected, but that the people who made their way to this event were much more intentional and interested in the topic than casual shoppers or gawkers.  Talking to the stall holders the previous day, the Saturday, had been quieter, but the day I went, Sunday, did not seem as busy as the one day Fayre in Kings Lynn.

Interestingly the marketing called it a Mind Body Soul Event, and I am more used to seeing Mind Body and Spirit. As Spiritual is one of my terms on my freelisting leaflet I was particularly interested to see what words came out of that section.  One person I spoke to said that they were considering taking Spiritual off of their branding for their therapies.  That’s just one anecdote and hardly indicative of a general change in attitude but something of interest.

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2.  Again at this fair there was a mix of stalls, both those selling items and those selling treatments or readings.  There was very little privacy for the latter, and I had to make sure I wasnt interupting a client when I approached the stall holder with my freelisting leaflet.  Only one reader, a tarot reader, had an enclosed curtained off space.  I chose stallholders again as they were relatively stationary and I prefered leaving the leaflet with them to fill out rather than standing over them.  There were about 40 stalls and some of those I recognised from Kings Lynn.  In  total I got 19 returned leaflets, slightly less than at Kings Lynn.  But my method of approach was quite chatty and time consuming so I didnt expect to hand out many.  Doing this also meant that I had a chance to make new contacts and I have two possible interviewees lined up.

3.  Like Kings Lynn the stallholders and visitors were primarily white.  There was one black stallholder selling Egyptian items such as Ankhs, bookmarks, statues and oils, two Indian stallholders jointly representing the Brahma Kumaris and another Asian looking gentleman offering massage and reiki treatments.

4. As for my word results… I got more words in response to the words “Indigo Children” this time round, though again some were not specific to the category and might have been guesses, e.g. Blue, Purple, Heart, Soul.  Several people asked me what they were.  Some answers made it clear that the writer HAD heard of them before: autism, disabled, pioneers, or the very specific “More evolved children coming into incarnation to deal with the new age”.  When it came to the words “New Age”, there were some very negative responses again:  losers, slackers, misfits, hippies, needy, sloppy and fluffy.  The worst being “smells”.  The most popular response was again Hippy/Hippies. The 1960s and travellers popped up again.  It is definitely worth bearing in mind this reaction to the term New Age as I will still probably have to use it in my descriptions of the milieu I am looking at.

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Under Parenting, the word Love stormed home with by far the most responses.  But interestingly, again, words around hard work and duty appeared frequently as well as teaching and guiding.

Under Spiritual the word ‘Higher’ appeared in conjunction with other words, as in Higher Good, Higher Consciousness, Higher Power, Higher Self, suggesting a location for the spiritual at least in a metaphorical sense.  My favourite response to Spiritual was “Me ;)”

5. Someone suggested I look at the order in which the words were written down, but I cant guarantee that people followed the numbering I put on my leaflets.  But, assuming that people write left to right, I might collate all the words in the first position as they should be people most immediate responses to the terms. 

This was another very useful exercise even if my sampling is quite small.  I hope to run it another couple of times depending on what fairs I can get to. 

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