Fabio Dei

Domestic objects and familial styles. A research on material culture among middle-class families in Tuscany

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Material culture, home cultures, anthropology of consumption, middle class families

Families live in homes inhabited by material objects. Ordinary objects of everyday life shape domestic space and create the background of familial experience and relationships. By purchasing, using, displaying, donating and discarding objects, a family affirms its own identity and its place in the social space. Associated with ceremonial performances, domestic objects give form to family memories, expressing continuity in genealogical and historical time. In this paper, I present some preliminary findings from and interpretation of a study on domestic material culture among middle-class families in Tuscany. After a brief outline of the theoretical literature, the paper examines two features of domestic cultures, which emerge from the research: a) the difference between «utilitarian» and «ostensive» styles in home furnishing, and their relation to family cultural capital; b) domestic objects as the expression of two distinct family dimensions: lineage, or «vertical» continuity, and alliance, or «horizontal» relationships.

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