Comfort, Cleanliness and Convenience
The Social Organization of Normality
Over the past few generations, expectations of comfort, cleanliness and convenience have altered radically, but these dramatic changes have largely gone unnoticed. This intriguing book brings together the sociology of consumption and technology to investigate the evolution of these changes, as well the social meaning of the practices themselves. Homes, offices, domestic appliances and clothes play a crucial role in our lives, but not many of us question exactly how and why we perform so many daily rituals associated with them. Showers, heating, air-conditioning and clothes washing are simply accepted as part of our normal, everyday lives, but clearly this was not always the case. When did the daily shower become de rigueur? What effect has air conditioning had on the siesta at one time an integral part of Mediterranean life and culture? This book interrogates the meaning and supposed normality of these practices and draws disturbing conclusions. There is clear evidence supporting the view that routine consumption is controlled by conceptions of normality and profoundly shaped by cultural and economic forces. Shove maintains that habits are not just changing, but are changing in ways that imply escalating and standardizing patterns of consumption. This shrewd and engrossing analysis shows just how far the social meanings and practices of comfort, cleanliness and convenience have eluded us.
Elizabeth Shove is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Lancaster University.
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New Technologies / New Cultures
240pp, 20 b&w illustrations, bibliography, index
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|'Elizabeth Shove has delivered a refreshing and high quality piece of work that can be expected to have a lasting impact on the research agenda of the sociology of consumption….The book also offers a refreshing sort of methodological perspective to the study of everyday life.'|