This publication is the outcome of ethnographic research from 2014-18 in four village pubs. The first section focuses on change, and continuity in the life of village pubs. The second half focuses on the publicans’ themselves – their survival strategies, the nature of their personal engagement and their never-ending precarious existence.
The first half of the book focuses on continuity and change for the village pub. We investigate changing times, the relationship between the pub and village and the pub and the pub as a centre of social relations. We show how these pubs have had to broaden their appeal as good food places with a restaurant style service and how they have had to seek awards and commendations to improve their popularity and the extent to which they have converted parts of the pub for bed and breakfast. However, we also illustrate how they have generated local interest through offers, charitable events, regular pub clubs and quizzes, musical entertainment, family days and advertising local walks. The second half focuses on the publicans’ themselves – their survival strategies, the nature of their personal engagement and their never-ending precarious existence. The publicans involved with this research invested a great deal of themselves into these businesses and there is no doubt they gained a lot in terms of positive social relations and emotional satisfaction from being able to generate joy and pleasure for those using their pubs. However, in order to produce a profit from the village pub managers have had to work very long hours, owners invest a great deal of personal energy and sometimes financial support and they all have had to employ the goodwill of villagers and regulars to aid survival.
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