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Toilet: Public Restrooms and the Politics of Sharing (NYU Series in Social and Cultural Analysis) Paperback – November 17, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“An incredibly smart book about the importance of the toilet, especially for urban dwellers. I will never look at a toilet the same again.”

-Mitchell Duneier,author of Sidewalk



"In Toilet, academics from the field of sociology, law, urban planning, gender studies, archeology, and architecture ponder the meaning of a room some people can't even call by name."
-Kate Tuttle,The Boston Globe

Toilet is full of such insights…the prose is clear and readable.”

-Kate Tuttle,Boston.com

Toilet opens the door to a profound and fascinating understanding of the way we use and are abused by public conveniences.”

-Howard S. Becker,author of Outsiders: Studies In The Sociology Of Deviance

“We may not feel comfortable discussing them, but questions of where and how we do our business, particularly in public, have a tremendous impact on our everyday lives. That’s why Toilet: Public Restrooms and the Politics of Sharing, a new collection of academic essays, is so necessary.” -Salon.com

"This profound and surprising book takes up a subject usually kept private: the public restroom. These scholarly but mostly accessible new examinations of the topic provide fascinating insights on cultural notions of cleanliness and filth, public and private."
-Rachel Bridgewater,Library Journal

"The 12 essays in Toilet make clear that public toilets are anything but neutral, and argue that, in fact, restrooms-not just their design but where and to whom they are available-are loaded with cultural insights into views on race, sex, ability, and class...Toilet imparts a lesson: Pay attention. Those issues that most quietly fall into the background, unquestioned and seemingly benign, may be the most loaded and deserving of scrutiny."-Bitch Magazine

"Ranging from studies of Roman latrines to quasi-ethnographic studies of contemporary restroom design projects, the authors rigorously and sometimes cleverly expose moral panics, gender ideologies, and contradictions of bathroom design, accessibility, and use."-J.L. Croissant,Choice

“Peeing is political. The authors of Toilet show us how. In provocative essays from a range of perspectives, we learn what toilets (and their lack) teach us―about hierarchy, inequality, the body, aesthetics and politics. Using toilets as social and cultural prisms, they analyze global collective (in)action, outlining the deeply personal consequences for us all. This is wickedly smart, pointed and passionate public interest scholarship at its best..”

-Lisa Duggan,author of Twilight of Equality: Neoliberalism, Cultural Politics and the Attack on Democracy

“Who could have imagined? A book that weaves cutting edge gender theory into urban planning policy by way of the lowly toilet? A wondrous compendium.”

-Jane Mansbridge,Adams Professor in the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University

“[T]his book offers precise insights―want to keep a public bathroom clean? Stick some flowers there. And it often cleverly illuminates what’s in plain sight―say, the reasons why New York has so few female cabbies―but is usually ignored or assiduously avoided.”

-The Atlantic

“When Molotch and Norén let slip a few “pissings” or “pees,” the book becomes livelier, as is befitting of the subject. And the inclusion of essays from scholars of many different disciplines―gender studies, disability rights, architecture―makes this a toilet book not to be missed.”

-Book Bench, The New Yorker Blog

“The politics of the loo, sexual as well as cultural, are taken up in a new book, Toilet: Public Restrooms and the Politics of Sharing, edited by Harvey Molotch and Laura Norén. It aims to tackle the language around toilets and open up debates that have gone on, so to speak, behind closed doors and that never get resolved. ”

-Irish Times

About the Author

Harvey Molotch is Professor of Sociology and Professor in the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University. His books include Urban Fortunes: The Political Economy of Place (with John Logan, California 2007) and Where Stuff Comes From: How Toasters, Toilets, Cars, Computers and Many Other Things Come to Be as They Are (Routledge 2005), winner of the Eastern Sociological Association’s Best Book Award.



Laura Norén is a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology at New York University.

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Product Details

  • Series: NYU Series in Social and Cultural Analysis
  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: NYU Press (November 17, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814795897
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814795897
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #971,968 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Evan the Dweezil on June 10, 2011
Format: Paperback
Why are the lines to the women's restroom so long? How come there are fewer public restroom in parks these days? Why are the partitions between toilet stalls so high of the ground your two-year-old child can crawl off to the hand dryers and out the door before you can chase her down?

Toilet looks into the history and culture behind public toilets, who uses them for what, and so much more in this compilation of papers. Most of the papers are well written and easily understandable for the average reader. Go ahead, answer the questions you've always had about one of the places people are least likely to talk about.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I picked up Toilet: Public Restrooms and the Politics of Sharing as a reference book for a talk I was giving. I thought I would skim through it for some examples of gender-free restrooms, and found it a fascinating history about Victorian norms, Utopian ideals, and how things like gender, sexual orientation, health concerns, and other hot-button topics have affected architecture and how we think about bodily functions. Very highly recommended, as it's easily understood and very well-researched. You may not think that bathrooms are an interesting subject, but give it a try!
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Format: Paperback
I highly recommend this anthology. It is an excellent intro into the fledgling field of bathroom politics, and will have you reevaluating what you think you know about social norms, have you asking questions, and most of all keep you interested.

I recommend this book to friends, and now to amazon shoppers. Enjoy!
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