Most of the stories we tell are about great feats, dangerous journeys, or daring confrontations—exceptional moments in our existence. But what about how we live every single day? In Everyday Life, Joseph A. Amato offers an account of daily existence that reminds us how important the quotidian is. Ranging across social, economic, and cultural history—as well as anthropology, folklore, and technology—he explores how and why the pattern of our lives has changed and developed over time.
Amato examines the common facts and occurrences in lives from all spheres, whether of a pauper or a noble, a criminal or state official, or a lunatic or a philosopher. Such facts include basic aspects of human existence, such as play, work, conflict, and healing, as well the logistics of survival, such as housing, clothing, cleaning, cooking, animals, plants, and machines. Tracing core historical developments like efficiency of production and greater mobility, Amato shows how we became modern in everyday ways. He explores how, paradoxically, commerce, technology, design, industrialization, nationalism, and democratization—which have so undercut traditional culture and have homogenized, centralized, and secularized masses of people—have also profoundly transformed daily life, affording citizens with materially improved lives, individual rights, and productive and rewarding expectations.
A wide-ranging account of lives throughout history, this book gives us new insights into our own condition, showing us how extraordinary the ordinary can be.