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The Meaning of Things: Domestic Symbols and the Self

3.51  ·  Rating Details ·  77 Ratings  ·  8 Reviews
The meaning of things is a study of the significance of material possessions in contemporary urban life, and of the ways people carve meaning out of their domestic environment. Drawing on a survey of eighty families in Chicago who were interviewed on the subject of their feelings about common household objects, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Eugene Rochberg-Halton provide a u ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published October 9th 2002 by Cambridge University Press (first published October 30th 1981)
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Feb 11, 2010 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
This book was remarkable for a few reasons. First, I admire the political conviction of its authors. It's so rare to see academic books espouse a clear point of view (in this case: materialism is bad). I guess academics were able to do as much in the 1970s. Maybe someday we'll be back there. Second, the book does a remarkable job looking at an understudied subject and treating it fully (312 in-depth interviews!) and with the care and concern it deserves. It doesn't strive toward broad generaliza ...more
Elia Nelson
Jan 28, 2008 Elia Nelson rated it it was amazing
Beautiful exposition of how people use, learn from, attach to, and create relationships with the objects in their homes. Eminently readable, even when they get into the nitty gritty of ethnographic data.
Catie Carlson
Sep 09, 2012 Catie Carlson rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Read it for a book club. I felt like the conclusions that Csikszentmihalyi pulled from the study had a sexist nature to them, but that could have been the nature of the study being located in an upper class Chicago neighborhood.
Christiane Alsop
Feb 28, 2010 Christiane Alsop rated it really liked it
Social research at its best.
Jul 12, 2007 Jesus rated it liked it
Recommends it for: shelves
Shelves: whileago
Within a sample size of three hundred individuals from the Chicago area a couple decades ago, furniture is said to be the most meaningful part of domestic environments.
Barbara Mader
Jun 01, 2010 Barbara Mader rated it it was ok
--some interesting stuff; just not what I expected, and somewhat dated by now.
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A Hungarian psychology professor, who emigrated to the United States at the age of 22. Now at Claremont Graduate University, he is the former head of the department of psychology at the University of Chicago and of the department of sociology and anthropology at Lake Forest College.

He is noted for both his work in the study of happiness and creativity and also for his notoriously difficult name, i
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