Fieldwork Status Report - In the Field

Capturing the soundscape of work at 4:30am in Notting Hill, London

Capturing the soundscape of work at 4:30am in Notting Hill, London

We are currently working on an ethnographic research project for Abel & Cole. We are studying working life and culture, getting under the skin of the company in a way they've never done before. Like many other companies, they realise the important role culture plays on the success of their business. They also recognise the importance of having some independant beginners eyes and ears doing this work.

We’ve spent the past 2 months gathering stories and observing working life. We’ve used some of their food to lead us through the company and its many departments and locations, following the journey of eggs, milk, potatoes and minced beef, gathering stories from everyone involved in moving that food from supplier to the doorstep.

We’ve traveled across the country in artic lorries, spent nights with shift workers, rushed across industrial estates to witness deliveries of tons of potatoes, taken part in taste tests and listened in as the board of directors had their monthly board meeting.

Anthropologist Dr Tom Rice interviewing workers on the packing line

Anthropologist Dr Tom Rice interviewing workers on the packing line

We’ve captured the soundscapes of the working environment to help us question and understand some of the more subtle things that are going on. We'll use the soundscapes alongside photographs, video and words to help us tell the story when we deliver our report. It’s one thing to read about the clanking sounds on the factory floor, it’s even more powerful to hear those sounds alongside video and photographs of the workers in that place.

DIY Kits

DIY Kits

We’ve also invited 50 Abel & Cole workers to become ethnographers themselves, giving them DIY kits to document their own working lives. We see this as a way to include more voices in telling this unique story and as a way to help us narrow down and confirm some of our findings.

We’ve attempted to leave no stone unturned in capturing as many different workers and unique cultures in the 11 locations across the country. 

Next, we'll be sharing some of our findings with workers in different locations, inviting them to create an exhibition that highlights and challenges the themes we've uncovered.

Our work is all about helping companies see the things that may have become invisible to them. We are looking for companies that are keen to see and understand their culture with beginners eyes so they can focus on the right support for it’s growth and development.

Get in touch

Curtis James

Brighton