Watching the English : The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour, Paperback

Watching the English : The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour Paperback

4 out of 5 (13 ratings)


In WATCHING THE ENGLISH anthropologist Kate Fox takes a revealing look at the quirks, habits and foibles of the English people.

She puts the English national character under her anthropological microscope, and finds a strange and fascinating culture, governed by complex sets of unspoken rules and byzantine codes of behaviour. The rules of weather-speak. The ironic-gnome rule. The reflex apology rule. The paranoid-pantomime rule. Class indicators and class anxiety tests. The money-talk taboo and many more ...Through a mixture of anthropological analysis and her own unorthodox experiments (using herself as a reluctant guinea-pig), Kate Fox discovers what these unwritten behaviour codes tell us about Englishness.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton General Division
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Cultural studies
  • ISBN: 9780340818862



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Showing 1 - 5 of 13 reviews.

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Review by

This is a humorous book on social behaviour! Kate Fox is describing the unofficial codes of conduct with some really funny examples. Interesting to see that some of them match social codes and values quite common in other cultures than the English.

Review by

Amazing stuff. Being a furriner, I cannot tell how much of it is really true (according to the other reviewers, most of it, it seems). But I had my first revelation when she mentions the "Have a tea, dear." thing. Sooo true! Whether you come in from steaming heat or freezing cold, happy or sad, they have the kettle going. Even my sister does this! She's been there too long.Definitely a useful guide through the shoals of cultural misunderstandings.

Review by

Fair warning: Do not read this book in your lunchbreak. It will make you late back to work. (Twice this week so far, and it's only Tuesday. And it's the second reading.)This is the book that those of us who have often felt that life in England is like playing a game where we're the only one who doesn't know the rules, and that all the other players are secretly laughing at us, have been waiting for all our lives. Really. Everything is so much *clearer* now. Also, it turns out that *nobody* actually knows the rules, not consciously, anyway...Fascinating, enlightening and funny; I'm recognising things I do without realising, things that other people do that have baffled me for ages, rules I was raised with that I'd never noticed, things I moan about... Really, it's incredibly enlightening, without ever being as excruciatingly embarrassing as having to /ask/ people why this, or that, is expected, or works that way, or is unacceptable.Whether you are English, know someone who is, or simply cannot understand why everybody you met here on holiday is just so incredibly... well, /strange/ - read this, and be enlightened.

Review by

Holds a mirror to what we English do rather then what we say. And its so true- I am the scruffy car owner in a street of wannabes who puzzle why I don't rush out on a Sunday to scrub, wax, vacuum.But I suffer from from being thought earnest- one of the greatest sins possible but at least I am not solemn if at times serious.( If you have to ask-read the book!)If you are an American learn why walking up to us with a smile and saying " Hi I am Mike from New York, attending the Dental convention" gets a look suggesting you have been deeply rude and personal !You have to slide into a conversation as if by accident via some remark about the weather, keeping it light, quiet and never earnest to sound out if the person is open for a conversation. And if after a long friendly evening you may be able to mention your name as if a afterthought as you leave.And if this confuses wait until until the rules on queues and how we use irony!

Review by

Everything Kate says "makes sense" in this fascinating and informative book. One constantly thinks, "So that's why I do that!".The book can be read "top to toe" or dipped into, without losing the message.

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