Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century
Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century
By Jeanne E. Arnold, Anthony P. Graesch, Enzo Ragazzini, and Elinor Ochs
ISBN: 978-1-931745-61-1 (cloth)
Publication Date: July 2012
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Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century cross-cuts the ranks of important books on social history, consumerism, contemporary culture, the meaning of material culture, domestic architecture, and household ethnoarchaeology. Far richer in information and more incisive than America at Home (Smolan and Erwitt), this innovative book also moves well beyond Rick Smolan's Day in the Life series. It is a distant cousin of Material World and Hungry Planet in content and style, but represents a blend of rigorous science and photography that none of these titles can claim. The authors are widely published scholars--archaeologists and anthropologists from UCLA--and a world-renowned photographer.
Using archaeological approaches to human material culture, this volume offers unprecedented access to the middle-class American home through the kaleidoscopic lens of no-limits photography and many kinds of never-before acquired data about how people actually live their lives at home. Its foundation is a meticulous, 10-year study of 32 ordinary Californian middle-class families. Extensive media coverage shows it has strong appeal not only to scientists but also to the book-buying public, people who share intense curiosity about what goes on at home in their neighborhoods. Many who read the book will see their own lives mirrored in these pages and can reflect on how other people cope with their mountains of possessions and other daily challenges.
Readers abroad will be equally fascinated by the contrasts between their own kinds of materialism and the typical American experience, as a sample of Italians' and Swedes' responses to the photographs and findings have demonstrated. The book will interest a range of designers, builders, and architects as well as scholars and students who research various facets of U.S. and global consumerism, cultural history, and economic history.
"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
"This is a remarkable, good-natured, and absorbing product of a long-term collaborative research project by a team of UCLA senior scholars and their students from anthropology and archaeology, with the aid of a master photographer, of the everyday lived-in spaces of a select number of households in southern California. They observe closely the mise-en-scene of everyday life in these households--the clutter of "things," the omnipresence of food, the coping with real estate developers' ideas of what a bathroom and a bedroom should be, the accommodation of the increasing presence of digital devices, and much more. A lot of this will be familiar to US readers, even if they did not know it before picking up this book. Indeed, the authors achieve magnificently what anthropology in its ethnographic sensibility is best at doing: making the familiar appear strange by looking closely at it. It engenders a shock of the familiar by directing readers' attention to what they would hardly notice otherwise. Rather than terror, fear, alarm, or pity, it produces amusement, curiosity, and most of all, hope. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries." - G. E. Marcus, University of California, Irvine -- review form CHOICE magazine
Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century was recently featured in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Yahoo!, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Los Angeles Times, Time Magazine, and People Magazine.