Understanding Material Culture

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Overview

Why are i-pods and mobile phones fashion accessories? Why do people spend thousands remodelling their perfectly functional kitchen? Why do people crave shoes or handbags? Is our desire for objects unhealthy, or irrational?

Objects have an inescapable hold over us, not just in consumer culture but increasingly in the disciplines that study social relations too. This book offers a systematic overview of the diverse ways of studying the material as culture. Surveying the field of material culture studies through an examination and synthesis of classical and contemporary scholarship on objects, commodities, consumption, and symbolization, this book:

" Introduces the key concepts and approaches in the study of objects and their meanings;

" Presents the full sweep of core theory - from Marxist and critical approaches to structuralism and semiotics - to evaluate the frameworks for approaching the material world;

" Shows how and why people use objects to perform identity, achieve social status, and narrativize life experiences;

" Analyzes everyday domains in which objects are important: social status, identity, social performance and narrativization;

" Shows why studying material culture is necessary for understanding the social.

This book will be essential reading for students and researchers in sociology, anthropology, cultural studies, consumer behaviour studies, design and fashion studies.

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Editorial Reviews

Material World
This book deserves its niche, both as a textbook covering long standing debates and discussions, but also as an entry point to a particular perspective. It comes about as close as anything I have seen to a genuine standard textbook that tries to transcend particular disciplines.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761942269
  • Publisher: SAGE Publications
  • Publication date: 5/29/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 200
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Table of Contents

PART ONE: LOCATING MATERIAL CULTURE
The Material as Culture. Definitions, Perspectives, Approaches
Studying Material Culture. Origins and Premises
PART TWO: THEORETICAL APPROACHES TO STUDYING MATERIAL CULTURE
The Deceptive, Suspicious Object. Marxist and Critical Approaches
The Object as Symbolic Code. Structural and Semiotic Approaches
The Material Representing the Cultural Universe. Objects, Symbols and Cultural Categories
PART THREE: OBJECTS IN ACTION
Objects and Distinction. The Aesthetic Field and Expressive Materiality
Material Culture and Identity. Objects and the Self
Material Culture, Narratives, and Social Performance. Objects in Contexts
PART FOUR: CONCLUSION
Conclusion:
Objects and Meaning in Consumer Culture

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