66.3 Whiteness, social order and heritage leisure: Reconstructing England through the national trust

Wednesday, August 1, 2012: 11:09 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Karl SPRACKLEN , Carnegie Faculty, Leeds Metropolitan University, Leeds, United Kingdom
In the summer of 2011, the streets of London and many other cities and towns in England were the sites of unrest, in which multi-ethnic, young working-class Englanders looted their local shopping centres for cheap trainers, wide-screen televisions and cigarettes and alcohol. At the same time in the countryside of England, the members of the National Trust – the multi-million member charity set up to own, manage and preserve built heritage and landscapes in England and Wales  - continued to visit stately homes, where they admired antique furniture and ate cream teas (Jenkins and James, 1994). This research paper uses the National Trust as an empirical case study for a wider theoretical discussion about the role of heritage leisure in preserving and reconstructing elitist social identities and power relationships in these turbulent times of globalization, commodification and neo-liberalism (Roberts, 2011). Although some of the research data will be ethnographic field work, I will focus on the National Trust’s public documents, including its magazine and website, to provide a semiotic account of the symbols and myths tied up in such material. I will argue that while the National Trust itself attempts to reach out to inner-city youths, people from working-class and minority ethnic communities, the people coveted by the National Trust’s marketing belong to an exclusively white England that is situated in the imagined past of the glorious British Empire.


Jenkins J and James P (1994) From Acorn to Oak Tree: The Growth of the National Trust 1895-1914. London: Macmillan.

Roberts K (2011) Leisure: The importance of being inconsequential. Leisure Studies 30(1):  5-20.