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Reading cultural difference

The reception of a short story in six European countries
Kovala, Urpo; Vainikkala, Erkki
951-39-0429-6; 0782-8632
University of Jyväskylä. The Research Centre for Contemporary Culture / Nykykulttuurin tutkimusyksikkö
Publications of the Research Centre for Contemporary Culture / Nykykulttuurin tutkimusyksikön julkaisuja (63)
2000

"-- you are on a moving escalator." Stuart Hall said these words at the final meeting of the researchers in London in November 1996. This study, Cultural rules of interpretation in six European countries, has looked into the ways that a story by the Finnish author Rosa Liksom was read by 17-18-year-old students and adults in middle-class professions in Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, and Great Britain.

As the material was gathered around the middle of the 1990s, the immediate background to the readings were the great upheavals at the turn of the decade. Cultural meanings were also responses to what happened socially and economically. The two post-communist countries involved, Bulgaria and Estonia, gave a special edge to the European study.

To most readers in all countries the compact violence of the story was unpalatable. Their ways of coping with that feeling was studied chiefly along the lines of nationality, gender, and generation. The most salient approach in the readings was the moralistic-realistic one, and the same themes were observed throughout. However, there were significant differences in the functions and meanings of these elements, and it was through them that the cultural contexts entered the scene.

The project consists of qualitative, nationally based case studies. They are collected in this volume together with an extensive introduction with comparative highlights. There is also a transcript of the discussions at the project's last meeting in London.

The researchers of this multi-disciplinary study are Kornelia Merdjanska from Bulgaria, Malle Järve, Tiiu Kamdron and Ülle-Marike Papp from Estonia, Katarina Eskola, Kimmo Jokinen, Urpo Kovala, Raine Koskimaa and Erkki Vainikkala from Finland, Martine Burgos from France, Erich Schön from Germany, and Rosalind Brunt, Margaret Montgomerie and Chris Pawling from Great Britain.

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