Talking of the Royal Family

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Routledge, 1992 - Biography & Autobiography - 244 pages
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The public seem to have an insatiable appetite for information about the Royal family. Every day the media carry news and pictures about the most famous family in the world. Yet social scientists have virtually ignored this strange mass obsession. Now, Michael Billig, a social psychologist, examines the significance of this interest in Royalty. He argues that the Royal family is a symbol of continuity in national consciousness. He supports this claim with analyses of 63 English families discussing the Royal family. As the families talk about Royalty, they are talking about much more: about gender, nationality, family life, the media, inequality, sex. Above all, they are talking about themselves. The book shows how this talk can be simultaneously serious and funny. There are jokes, criticism, praise and, above all, acceptance. Billig does much more than simply portray "attitudes" towards Royalty. He shows how our commonsense attitudes and ordinary desires are constructed. The book contributes new insights about ideology and popular memory.

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About the author (1992)

Michael Billig has been at Loughborough since 1985, when he was appointed Professor of Social Sciences. He had previously been a lecturer in the Department of Psychology at Birmingham University, having been an undergraduate and postgraduate at Bristol University. He has also been a visiting professor for short spells at Temple University in Philadelphia, University of California and University of Rome. At Loughborough, Michael teaches on the first year Introductory Course in Social Psychology. He also teaches Historical and Conceptual Issues in the second year. Originally, Michael trained as an experimental social psychologist, under the supervision of Henri Tajfel, who was probably the most influential social psychologist in post-war Britain. Michael was involved in designing the original minimal group experiments, which formed the basis of Tajfel s well-known Social Identity Theory. Since his Bristol days, Michael s interests, however, have moved towards qualitative approaches and towards developing the sort of critical social psychology which will be linked with other social sciences. He is the author of numerous books and articles, which reflect his parallel concerns with theory and with studying ways of thinking, especially ideological thought. His first book, Social Psychology and Intergroup Relations (Academic Press, 1976), provided a critique of orthodox social psychological approaches to the study of prejudice. After that work, he studied an extreme right-wing group, showing how the members thinking was influenced by the group s ideology (Fascists: a social psychologial view of the National Front, Academic Press, 1979).

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