The Stuff Of Family Life

In The Stuff of Family Life (May 15, 2017; ISBN: 978-1-4422-5479-4; Hardcover $34.00; 224 pages; Rowman & Littlefield), Sociology Professor Michelle Janning offers a timely look at how modern society and technology shapes our relationships and our lives. Like an archaeologist studying ancient civilizations through the things they left behind, Janning excavates contemporary life through our houses and possessions, from childhood stuffed animals and security blankets to retirement homes and senior living centers.

What does where you store old love letters say about their significance? Why do adults feel out of place in their childhood bedrooms? Janning takes readers through the stages of life – from dating and marriage to parenting and aging – that are usually kept behind closed doors. From online valentines to the growing popularity of “man caves,” The Stuff of Family Life looks not only at what large demographic studies say about family dynamics but also what our lives—and the stuff in them—say about how we relate to each other.

Janning has joked, “I am not a sociologist who uses large national datasets to illustrate family life; I’m the sociologist who asks people to examine what’s in their underwear drawers and living rooms to tell stories about their family life.” Using amusing anecdotes, as well as drawing on pop culture, economics, interior design, gender studies and more, Janning combines the educational with the entertaining to make The Stuff of Family Life accessible to both casual readers and dedicated students of sociology.

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