The Meaning of Things: domestic symbols and the self


The meaning of things is a study of the significance of material possessions in contemporary urban life, and of the ways by which people define meaning in their domestic environment. Drawing on a survey of eighty families in Chicago who were interviewed on the subject of their feelings about common household objects, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Eugene Rochberg-Halton provide a unique perspective on materialism, American culture, and the self. The authors suggest a model of ‘personhood’ which is based on goal-directed action and the cultivation of meaning through signs. Important findings include the distinction between objects which valued for action and those which are instead valued for contemplation, and how social and psychological differences can influence the development of emotional attachments between people and their homes.…


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