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The Meaning of Things: Domestic Symbols and the Self
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The Meaning of Things: Domestic Symbols and the Self

3.41 of 5 stars 3.41  ·  rating details  ·  49 ratings  ·  7 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 30th 1981 by Cambridge University Press
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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
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.
Elia Nelson
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.
Jul 23, 2007 Jesus rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
--some interesting stuff; just not what I expected, and somewhat dated by now.
Christiane Alsop
Social research at its best.
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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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