School of Social and Political Science

Miriam Snellgrove

Job Title

PhD title: The House Camphill Built: Identity, Self and Other

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Research interests

Research interests

Everyday Life


Ethnography and Participant Observation

Social Self

Social Identity


Thesis Abstract

This thesis concerns the process of everyday identity formation within Camphill settings. Specifically the research investigates the ways that Camphill places construct their identity around notions of deviance, repetitive practice, material spaces and the social self. Using a broad ethnographic methodology the thesis examines the ways that making, verifying and ascribing such identity claims occur and in what situations and contexts. The research further contributes to debates around the particular ways that social research constructs an understanding of the social world and argues that knowledge of normative social rules and social practices are crucial skills that determines our ability to function within society. Chapter One reviews the genesis of Camphill as residential settings for children and adults with disabilities. Discussions around the textual representations of Camphills' seventy year history are critiqued. The three fieldsites and the particular challenges present in undertaking multi-sited and ethically challenging research are discussed. Chapter Two discusses the practical, epistemological and conceptual lens through which the research is devised. Further the process of 'doing' ethnography shapes the researcher's identity as much as deviance and repetitive practice and the social self are implicated within Camphill identity work. The discussion argues for socially positioned ethnographies that reflect the multiple and competing social worlds of researcher, text and other. Chapter Three examines the particular ways that deviant identity is lived and experienced. It suggests that deviance is an important part of socialisation as it constructs social norms and rules, even if those norms are largely imagined. A key point is that deviant identity work is person specific and engaged in differently across the fieldsites. Chapter Four examines the role materiality plays in the formation of Camphill identity work. It suggests that engagement with material things is done as part of wider ongoing socialisation processes. Chapter Five argues that Camphills' highly structured everyday life is a crucial means for wider group and individual socialisation, with the expectation that such knowledge enables successful participation within society. The conclusion considers Camphill identity work and theorises its connections to collective experiences and structural processes.

The research was supported by an ESRC 1+3 Award (2007- 2011)


Dr. Hugo Gorringe, Sociology

Prof. Liz Stanley, Sociology


  • PhD - Edinburgh (2008 - 2012)
  • MSc by Social Research - Edinburgh (2008)
  • MSc in Social Anthropology - Edinburgh (2007)
  • B.A. (Hons) Religious Studies and Sociology - Stirling (2002 - 2006)


'Understanding and Responding 3' - University of Aberdeen (2009-2012) Occasional Lecturer

Tutor and Occasional Lecturer - University of Stirling (2008 - 2012)

Paper Presentations

I have presented work from my research at the 'BSA Annual Conference 2010', at 'New Directions in Social Research', University of Edinburgh (2008, 2010, 2011) and at 'Vital Signs 2: Engaging Research Imaginations', University of Manchester (2010)

Works within