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Respectable LivesSocial Standing in Rural New Zealand$
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Elvin Hatch

Print publication date: 1991

Print ISBN-13: 9780520074729

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520074729.001.0001

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(p.1) Chapter One Introduction
Respectable Lives

Elvin Hatch

University of California Press

This book is about a small, sheep-farming community on the South Island of New Zealand, and its central argument is that the local system of social standing and conceptions of self are grounded in historically variable, cultural systems of meaning. The book chiefly concentrates on the hierarchy of the district of South Downs, and only secondarily on Glassford and Midhurst. Two main theoretical principles underlie this book. The first is that social standing, achievement, and personal worth or identity are central to most social systems. The second principle is that status systems are grounded on systems of meaning. The issue of gender is also addressed. The woman's achievement of gender identity through her activities both in the home and in voluntary public service may be further regarded as an analogue to the man's achievement of gender identity through work.

Keywords:   South Downs, Glassford, Midhurst, gender identity, sheep-farming community

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