Trouble in paradise: UCLA book enumerates challenges faced by middle-class L.A. families

It's the place to look for the plumber's phone number, the date of the next doctor's appointment, that photo from your summer vacation and the spelling test your kid aced last week.

Yet even for all these telling glimpses into the minutiae of daily life, your refrigerator door reveals much more about your middle-class family.

The sheer volume of objects clinging to it may indicate how much clutter can be found throughout your home. Furthermore, that clutter provides a strong clue to how much stress Mom feels when she walks through the door at the end of a day at work.

This is one of the juicy tidbits from "Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century: 32 Families Open Their Doors," the first book by researchers affiliated with UCLA's Center on Everyday Lives of Families

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New Yorker article

Book is mentioned in this New Yorker article: SPOILED ROTTEN Why do kids rule the roost?

Book description

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), it 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 books can claim.

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.

Media reactions to early findings from the nine-year project that spawned this book indicate that it will 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 our corpus of photographs and our study's 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.

Life at Home in the Twenty-first Century: 32 Families Open their Doors

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