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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.
As a side benefit, after reading this book I was totally motivated to clean my house. Which is amazing. Because there's really nothing I hate more than housework.
This book does a brilliant job of making you ponder how your home really speaks to how you fit in to life today. How and why we use spaces the way we do, and how materialism is a concept we may rarely think about, but something we are all living. The photography in this book is great and I found many of the correlations between things and people solidly founded and pretty interesting. I would be curious to see the same book for a larger sample size, perhaps across the country.
My final verdict.....buy this book!
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.