Daniel Miller is Professor of Material Culture at University College London.
Comfort of Things / Edition 1by Daniel Miller, Toby Miller
What do we know about ordinary people in our towns and cities, about what really matters to them and how they organize their lives today? This book visits an ordinary street and looks into thirty households. It reveals the aspirations and frustrations, the tragedies and accomplishments that are played out behind the doors. It focuses on the things that matter to… See more details below
What do we know about ordinary people in our towns and cities, about what really matters to them and how they organize their lives today? This book visits an ordinary street and looks into thirty households. It reveals the aspirations and frustrations, the tragedies and accomplishments that are played out behind the doors. It focuses on the things that matter to these people, which quite often turn out to be material things – their house, the dog, their music, the Christmas decorations. These are the means by which they express who they have become, and relationships to objects turn out to be central to their relationships with other people – children, lovers, brothers and friends.
If this is a typical street in a modern city like London, then what kind of society is this? It’s not a community, nor a neighbourhood, nor is it a collection of isolated individuals. It isn’t dominated by the family. We assume that social life is corrupted by materialism, made superficial and individualistic by a surfeit of consumer goods, but this is misleading. If the street isn’t any of these things, then what is it?
This brilliant and revealing portrayal of a street in modern London, written by one the most prominent anthropologists, shows how much is to be gained when we stop lamenting what we think we used to be and focus instead on what we are now becoming. It reveals the forms by which ordinary people make sense of their lives, and the ways in which objects become our companions in the daily struggle to make life meaningful.
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Table of Contents
Portrait 1 Empty.
Portrait 2 Full.
Portrait 3 A Porous Vessel.
Portrait 4 Starry Green Plastic Ducks.
Portrait 5 Learning Love.
Portrait 6 The Aboriginal Laptop.
Portrait 7 Home and Homeland.
Portrait 8 Tattoo.
Portrait 9 Haunted.
Portrait 10 Talk to the Dog.
Portrait 11 Tales from the Publicans.
Portrait 12 Making a Living.
Portrait 13 McDonald's Truly Happy Meals.
Portrait 14 The Exhibitionist.
Portrait 15 Re-Birth.
Portrait 16 Strength of Character.
Portrait 17 Heroin.
Portrait 18 Shi.
Portrait 19 Brazil 2 England 2.
Portrait 20 A Thousand Places to See before You Die.
Portrait 21 Rosebud.
Portrait 22 The Orientalist.
Portrait 23 Sepia.
Portrait 24 An Unscripted Life.
Portrait 25 Oh Sod It!.
Portrait 26 José and José's Wife.
Portrait 27 Wrestling.
Portrait 28 The Carpenter.
Portrait 29 Things That Bright Up the Place.
Portrait 30 Home Truths.
Epilogue: If This is Modern Life – Then What is That?.
Appendix: The Study
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