Comfort, Cleanliness and Convenience: The Social by Elizabeth Shove

By Elizabeth Shove

Over the last few generations, expectancies of convenience, cleanliness and comfort have altered extensively, yet those dramatic alterations have mostly long past overlooked. This exciting booklet brings jointly the sociology of intake and expertise to enquire the evolution of those adjustments, besides the social that means of the practices themselves. houses, places of work, household home equipment and garments play a very important position in our lives, yet no longer many people query precisely how and why we practice such a lot of day-by-day rituals linked to them. Showers, heating, air-conditioning and garments washing are easily permitted as a part of our basic, daily lives, yet essentially this used to be now not regularly the case. whilst did the day-by-day bathe turn into de rigueur? What impact has air con had at the siesta at one time an essential component of Mediterranean existence and tradition? This booklet interrogates the which means and meant normality of those practices and attracts tense conclusions. there's transparent proof aiding the view that regimen intake is managed through conceptions of normality and profoundly formed via cultural and financial forces. Shove continues that conduct usually are not simply altering, yet are altering in ways in which indicate escalating and standardizing styles of intake. This wise and engrossing research indicates simply how some distance the social meanings and practices of convenience, cleanliness and comfort have eluded us.

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Additional info for Comfort, Cleanliness and Convenience: The Social Organization of Normality (New Technologies / New Cultures)

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If you are sitting comfortably then I’ll begin. These words, familiar to those who enjoyed the children’s radio programme ‘Listen with Mother’, provide as good a starting point as any. Used to introduce the short story featured in each lunchtime episode, this phrase conjures up an image of cosy anticipation: it suggests a state of mind as well as a proper disposition of the body. ‘Comfort’, from the Latin verb ‘confortare’, was first ‘adopted in Middle English with the meaning of mental or physical strength, encouragement or consolation’ (Heijs 1994: 43).

The pursuit of comfort consequently inspired practical programmes of action and enquiry. Writing of the eighteenth century, Crowley observes that political economists, moral philosophers, scientists, humanitarian reformers, and novelists ‘sought to evaluate the relations of body, material culture, and environment in the name of physical comfort’. He continues ‘They gave the term “comfort” a new physical emphasis as they reconceptualized values, redesigned material environments and urged the relearning of behaviours’ (Crowley 1999: 750).

To figure out how and why this kind of research has informed the specification of comfort, we need to reflect on the types of questions it promises to clarify and the sort of knowledge it generates. Questions and Agendas In Home: A short history of an idea, Rybczynski (1987: 220) argues that mass production, industrialization and the possibilities of indoor climate control transformed the meaning of comfort ‘not only qualitatively but also quantitatively’. The possibility of manufacturing just about any kind of indoor environment went hand in hand with the ability to control and measure key (reproducible) parameters like those of temperature, humidity, and ventilation.

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