Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Trim: 6 x 9
978-0-7591-2405-9 • Hardback • July 2015 • $98.00 • (£75.00)
978-0-7591-2406-6 • Paperback • July 2015 • $40.00 • (£31.00)
978-0-7591-2407-3 • eBook • July 2015 • $38.00 • (£29.00)
Billy Ehn is professor emeritus of ethnology at Umeå University in Sweden. He is co-author, with Orvar Löfgren, of The Secret World of Doing Nothing.Orvar Löfgren is professor emeritus of ethnology at Lund University in Sweden. His publications include On Holiday: A History of Vacationing. Richard Wilk is Provost’s Professor of Anthropology at Indiana University. His publications include Fast Food/Slow Food and Economies and Cultures (second edition, with Lisa Cliggett.) Richard Wilk and Orvar Löfgren, together with Jessica Chelakis, are co-editors of The Anthropology of Everyday Life, a Rowman & Littlefield series.
Finding the tools
From idea to finished product
The need for a cultural perspective
Structure of the book
2—The importance of small things
The first step: getting going
The second step: searching for literature
The third step: collecting material
The fourth step: the analysis
The fifth step: writing
3—Making the familiar strange
Making a first attempt
Looking for entrances
To avoid the predictable
Choosing methodological entrances
New questions and surprising answers
Return to the past
A life-history perspective
The strange home
The home as an art installation
The importance of details and activities
The advantages of limitation
4—Sharing a meal
The hidden world of the dinner table
Forming a family meal
Power at the table
Class and family history
Doing mealtime ethnography
Meals as models
5—Do you remember Facebook?
Exploring media in everyday life
Beginning at the end
Analog and digital living
Media taking place
Are you there?
Follow the Objects
6—Catching a mood
Locating the setting
Touring the senses
The station as a sensorium
Sensing the World
7—Crafting wood and words
Making things with words
Describing non-verbal experience
Do it by feel
Writing DIY: three versions
The importance of failures
Working and Writing
The classic style
Making changes to the classic mold
The jungle ideal
Where is the field now?
Past, present, future
9—Taking cultural analysis out into the world
The surprise effect
What’s this thing about culture?
A double cultural analysis
Learning to communicate
Time discipline and teamwork
Three ways of surprising a client
The critical edge
Books that teach the art of analyzing a culture and are easy to read are rare. This book fills that gap by making it an everyday experience. For example, in the third chapter, ‘Making the Familiar Strange,’ the goal is to discover what is new and strange within homes of differing cultures. These small details help ethnographers understand what is going on in the lives of the people that they are studying. In another chapter, ‘Sharing a Meal,’ the authors point out how much can be learned by observing a mealtime with a family. The simple act of eating a meal together varies given the combination of cultural expectations and family histories; this is a real learning experience when viewed from an ethnographic perspective. The study of cultural ideals and mores is fraught with difficulties; the authors have broken this into basics that make ethnography doable and fun. Their examples help learners craft their studies step-by-step, as well as give advice on analysis that is both helpful and insightful. A well-researched and highly readable book for both social science and anthropological interests. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Most academic levels/libraries.
— Choice Reviews
This is a wonderful handbook: the chapters are content rich, with a bevy of excellent examples. The authors offer concrete and specific attention to proceeding with research on cultural meaning, cultural objects, and cultural fields. It will be a valuable addition for any number of classes at both the undergraduate and graduate levels: qualitative methods, ethnography, a course on writing in the social sciences, or ones focused on culture, micro-sociology, and/or everyday life.
— Amy L. Best, George Mason University
An easy-to-read and practical guide to understanding how anthropologists study the everyday and to what ends they apply their insights. It offers incredibly accessible writing, with short and straightforward chapters and clear examples.
— Georgina Drew, University of Adelaide
Exploring Everyday Life is a book to be used, not simply read. The authors encourage us to be more conscious about the unconscious, to see how the ordinary in life is as important as the extraordinary in making us who we are. And they succeed in making ethnographic methods a widely accessible tool of both social analysis and quotidian engagement. Such considered and self-reflective observations of the commonplace not only afford not only a better understanding of the world but allow us to live better within it.
— David W. Montgomery, University of Pittsburgh
A rare and wonderfully elaborate hands-on approach to ethnography and cultural analysis; this text is a source of inspiration on how to convert unnoticed everyday phenomena into cultural analysis.
— Morten Kyed, Aalborg University
Straightforward chapters are rich with examples; individual chapters and the book as a whole are brief enough to complement an array of other classroom resources.
An easy-to-read and practical guide to understanding how anthropologists study the everyday and to what ends they apply their insights.
The familiar is made strange and the importance of small things becomes clear in this hands-on exploration of cultural research and methodological experimentation.
• Winner, Choice Outstanding Academic Title (2016)