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.

Material Culture, Narratives and Social Performance. Objects in Contexts

Material Culture, Narratives and Social Performance. Objects in Contexts

Material culture, narratives and social performance. Objects in contexts

Summary of Chapter Contents

This chapter looks at how objects come to life through narrativisation and social performance. It has four main sections which:

  • define and discuss the concepts of narrative and social performance, outlining their value for studying objects
  • discuss the example of the home as a special context for studying material culture
  • outline a range of environmental and social-psychological, and sociological, approaches to studying domestic objects
  • use case studies to investigate the polysemic nature of people-object relations in the home.

Objects in Contexts

Along with a discussion of the application of the concepts ‘narrative’ and ‘performance’ in studies of material culture, this chapter uses interview and case study material from a study the ...

  • Loading...
locked icon

Sign in to access this content

Get a 30 day FREE TRIAL

  • Watch videos from a variety of sources bringing classroom topics to life
  • Read modern, diverse business cases
  • Explore hundreds of books and reference titles