Exploring Everyday Life: Strategies for Ethnography and Cultural Analysis

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9780759124066: Exploring Everyday Life: Strategies for Ethnography and Cultural Analysis

Explores and explains how the mysteries of everyday life-from conversations and observations through web browsing and popular culture-can become the basis of rich ethnography and deep cultural analysis.

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About the Author:

Billy Ehn is professor emeritus of ethnology at Umeå University in Sweden. He is co-author, with Orvar Löfgren, of The Secret World of Doing Nothing.Orvar Löfgren is professor emeritus of ethnology at Lund University in Sweden. His publications include On Holiday: A History of Vacationing. Richard Wilk is Provost’s Professor of Anthropology at Indiana University. His publications include Fast Food/Slow Food and Economies and Cultures (second edition, with Lisa Cliggett.) Richard Wilk and Orvar Löfgren, together with Jessica Chelakis, are co-editors of The Anthropology of Everyday Life, a Rowman & Littlefield series.


Books that teach the art of analyzing a culture and are easy to read are rare. This book fills that gap by making it an everyday experience. For example, in the third chapter, ‘Making the Familiar Strange,’ the goal is to discover what is new and strange within homes of differing cultures. These small details help ethnographers understand what is going on in the lives of the people that they are studying. In another chapter, ‘Sharing a Meal,’ the authors point out how much can be learned by observing a mealtime with a family. The simple act of eating a meal together varies given the combination of cultural expectations and family histories; this is a real learning experience when viewed from an ethnographic perspective. The study of cultural ideals and mores is fraught with difficulties; the authors have broken this into basics that make ethnography doable and fun. Their examples help learners craft their studies step-by-step, as well as give advice on analysis that is both helpful and insightful. A well-researched and highly readable book for both social science and anthropological interests. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Most academic levels/libraries. (CHOICE)

This is a wonderful handbook: the chapters are content rich, with a bevy of excellent examples. The authors offer concrete and specific attention to proceeding with research on cultural meaning, cultural objects, and cultural fields. It will be a valuable addition for any number of classes at both the undergraduate and graduate levels: qualitative methods, ethnography, a course on writing in the social sciences, or ones focused on culture, micro-sociology, and/or everyday life. (Amy L. Best, George Mason University)

An easy-to-read and practical guide to understanding how anthropologists study the everyday and to what ends they apply their insights. It offers incredibly accessible writing, with short and straightforward chapters and clear examples. (Georgina Drew, University of Adelaide)

Exploring Everyday Life is a book to be used, not simply read. The authors encourage us to be more conscious about the unconscious, to see how the ordinary in life is as important as the extraordinary in making us who we are. And they succeed in making ethnographic methods a widely accessible tool of both social analysis and quotidian engagement. Such considered and self-reflective observations of the commonplace not only afford not only a better understanding of the world but allow us to live better within it. (David W. Montgomery, University of Pittsburgh)

A rare and wonderfully elaborate hands-on approach to ethnography and cultural analysis; this text is a source of inspiration on how to convert unnoticed everyday phenomena into cultural analysis. (Morten Kyed, Aalborg University)

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