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date: 10 April 2020

Abstract and Keywords

As recently as 1985, the doyen of social science history in Germany, Hans-Ulrich Wehler, said the study of everyday life added little more than a bit of ‘gruel’ to the main course of history. Since then, the turf wars between social history, history from below, and cultural history have themselves become a thing of the past. It was during the 1950s–1970s that first sociologists, and then ‘new social’ historians, embraced the everyday. The flowering of consumption studies since would be unthinkable without the recognition that everyday life is an important – perhaps the most important – place people find meaning, develop habits, and acquire a sense of themselves and their world. This article offers an historical account of the changing scope and politics of everyday life. In contrast to recent discussions that have made the everyday appear the product of Western Europe after World War II, it traces the longer history of the everyday and the different politics of modernity which it has inspired.

Keywords: everyday life, politics, social history, modernity, consumption

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