- Hardcover: 180 pages
- Publisher: The Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press; 1st Edition.... edition (July 12, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1931745617
- ISBN-13: 978-1931745611
- Product Dimensions: 10.5 x 0.5 x 10 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 23 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #370,841 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century: 32 Families Open Their Doors Hardcover – July 12, 2012
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"A meticulous, systematic documentation by a cross-disciplinary team...a visual ethnography of middle-class American households." -The Washington Post
This book documents major findings of a brilliantly conceived and executed piece of social science research that speaks to a very wide and diverse audience. Its findings are significant, credible, and provocative. In my opinion, it is one of the most significant social-science projects undertaken in the United States, demonstrating the power of anthropological and archaeological approaches to researching human behavior, whether in a traditional tribal society or in an industrial megalopolis.
The discussions are filled with interesting insights that could only have come from a first-hand study of household material culture. The flow of everyday life in relation to places defined by objects provides a refreshing and unique perspective on human behavior. Readers will be drawn in by the lively, well-written, and accessible prose. The images are spectacular because there s nothing else like them in quality, quantity, and especially their unique view of modern family life and household possessions. [This book is] of great significance, not only to the social sciences but also to ongoing policy discussions about what is happening in America. --Michael Brian Schiffer (University of Arizona)
From the Author
Published July 2012.
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Then of course, it renders our homes as activity centers, which we know how to talk about from all the HGTV we watch, and about multi-use areas important in small space living. I wonder if the more multi-use areas a home has, does that reveal a lower economic level? with single use areas in the homes of the wealthy expanded like gas to fill a void? I'll think on that a bit too.
I did not get this to help me design my home remodel, but it appeals to my need for self awareness. I do not often think of my place in time......but this is so fascinating, it feels like James Michener's novel THE SOURCE, which dug deeper and deeper and layer by layer down with his civilizations, connecting the family Ur to preceding generations.
When the book arrived, I laid it bedside, intending to scan the contents that night. Well, I decided to take a peek after I read the Introduction, and then I kept going. It isn't a long book, easily read through. And then it needs to be revisited a bit later on, after you think about it. I have it on my dining table still, where I have the drawings for our house remodel in the planning stage. I will pick it up on occasion and glance at some of the room use and item use graphics. So yes, I like this book. And I would buy it again. I might even loan it to my architect. It would be nice to talk with a professional about his take on the book.
The book is ten inches square with many photographs in 171 pages, so it is considerably condensed. It is organized thematically into nine chapters, each addressing a different aspect of "the material worlds of contemporary American families." The first chapter introduces us to the families, all of which have two working parents 28-58 years old, 2-3 children at least one of which is 7-12 years old, who lived in a detached house which they own, with an average of 1750 square feet of living space. Chapter 2 offers some of the book's most striking images. It is about "Material Saturation" including "images of vibrant U.S. consumerism and its real and striking impacts at home." Chapter 3 is about "Food, Food, Food", how the families choose it, prepare it, and store it. Chapter 4 discusses "Vanishing Leisure" and how little of it is spent outdoors. Chapter 5 features "Kitchens as Command Centers", followed by "Bathroom Bottlenecks" in Chapter 6.
In addition to photographs and analyses, most chapters include statistics on the 32 families, sometimes compared to broader studies. Chapter 7 is about "Master Suites as Sanctuaries". Chapter 8, "Plugged In", addresses the use of televisions, video games, and computers. The book's last chapter talks about "The Personalization of Home" or what families choose to display and why. The early chapters about material saturation, food, and leisure focus on aspects of middle class life that have deteriorated in recent decades. Somehow relaxed, post-War, middle class suburbia became a cluttered, unhealthy lifestyle. The other chapters don’t say anything negative. They discuss how people use their space and time and what social impacts that may have. A couple of the homes stood out for being tidy and uncluttered. This made me wonder about the outliers that don't receive any attention. I would have liked more statistics, but I am a data junkie. Overall, this is a fascinating study.
There is a lot of food for thought, there isn't a lot of commentary on the meaning of people's over-consumption or the resulting stress and anguish, but the book begs the questions about why we are living this way, what are the alternatives or are there viable alternatives within this time and place.
Those of us who studied sociology, or history, or design, or other related topics are very familiar with the process of analyzing studies done of other people, other places, other times...But this book turns the lens back onto the self in an eye-opening and discomforting way.
I would like to see a book with more of the actual study findings, more of the photos, and maybe even some essays by cultural theorists reacting to the work. Much food for thought.
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