Blue Jeans: The Art of the Ordinary

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9780520272187: Blue Jeans: The Art of the Ordinary
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This fresh and accessible ethnography offers a new vision of how society might cohere, in the face of on-going global displacement, dislocation, and migration. Drawing from intensive fieldwork in a highly diverse North London neighborhood, Daniel Miller and Sophie Woodward focus on an everyday item―blue jeans―to learn what one simple article of clothing can tell us about our individual and social lives and challenging, by extension, the foundational anthropological presumption of “the normative.” Miller and Woodward argue that blue jeans do not always represent social and cultural difference, from gender and wealth, to style and circumstance. Instead they find that jeans allow individuals to inhabit what the authors term “the ordinary.” Miller and Woodward demonstrate that the emphasis on becoming ordinary is important for immigrants and the population of North London more generally, and they call into question foundational principles behind anthropology, sociology and philosophy.

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"Miller and Woodward draw our attention to an ubiquitous aspect of modern living, one that rarely rises to the level of consciousness. Blue Jeans undeniably provokes. It succeeds at bringing the ordinary into plain view. After reading the book, I noticed how much more alert I was to the presence of jeans--who was wearing them and in what situations." -Robert J. Foster, author of Coca-Globalization: Following Soft Drinks from New York to New Guinea.

"In their new book Blue Jeans: The Art of Ordinary, Woodward and Miller explore how jeans identify their wearer more than any other single garment. Whether on the runway, in prison, downtown or homeless, they say so much more about you than what you’re wearing-- whether you like it or not." -Simon Collins, Dean of the School of Fashion at Parsons The New School for Design

“The miracle of Daniel Miller and Sophie Woodward’s treatise is just how wide its insight stretches. Through the lens of something as ordinary as blue jeans, we are offered a view of culture, immigration, economics, women’s issues, and social and familial structures. Most of all, we are offered a unique view of ourselves.” -Rachel Louise Snyder, author of Fugitive Denim: A Moving Story of People and Pants in the Borderless World of Global Trade

About the Author:

Daniel Miller is Professor of Anthropology at University College, London. He is the author of many books, including The Comfort of Things, Stuff, and Tales from Facebook. Sophie Woodward is Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Manchester and the author of Why Women Wear What They Wear.

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Publisher: University of California Press, 2012
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