Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century cross-cuts the ranks of important books on social history, consumerism, contemporary culture, the meaning of material culture, domestic architecture, and household ethnoarchaeology. Far richer in information and more incisive than America at Home (Smolan and Erwitt), this innovative book also moves well beyond Rick Smolan's Day in the Life series. It is a distant cousin of Material World and Hungry Planet in content and style, but represents a blend of rigorous science and photography that none of these titles can claim. The authors are widely published scholars--archaeologists and anthropologists from UCLA--and a world-renowned photographer. Using archaeological approaches to human material culture, this volume offers unprecedented access to the middle-class American home through the kaleidoscopic lens of no-limits photography and many kinds of never-before acquired data about how people actually live their lives at home. Its foundation is a meticulous, 10-year study of 32 ordinary Californian middle-class families. Extensive media coverage shows it has strong appeal not only to scientists but also to the book-buying public, people who share intense curiosity about what goes on at home in their neighborhoods.
Many who read the book will see their own lives mirrored in these pages and can reflect on how other people cope with their mountains of possessions and other daily challenges. Readers abroad will be equally fascinated by the contrasts between their own kinds of materialism and the typical American experience, as a sample of Italians' and Swedes' responses to the photographs and findings have demonstrated. The book will interest a range of designers, builders, and architects as well as scholars and students who research various facets of U.S. and global consumerism, cultural history, and economic history.