The social worlds of caravaning: objects, scripts and practices

Dale Southerton, Elizabeth Shove, Alan Warde, Rosemary Deem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


This paper is about the part which objects play in scripting the practices and strategies of their users. Goffman uses the concept of script to make sense of the conventional ordering of social interaction and the definition and maintenance of social worlds. As adopted by Latour (1992), Akrich (1992)and others, the term describes the ways in which devices and non-human actors configure their users. Drawing upon a study of caravaning and caravaners, we link these interpretations together through the mediating concept of practice. We argue that the practice of caravaning involves the resolution of common dilemmas, related to the material characteristics of the activity, and that the manner of their resolution, which involves the differential use of apparently similar objects and devices, underpins the social ordering of caravaning communities. In this case, as in others, non- human actors do not simply script, they also set the stage for social differentiation. Equally, caravans and caravan sites are much more than props strategically deployed in the course of social interaction. Like other objects, they are also implicated in the constitution and definition of the challenges around which social distinctions revolve.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSociological Research Online
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2001


  • Caravans
  • Consumption
  • Differentiation
  • Objects
  • Practices
  • Scripts


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