The Handbook is divided into five parts. The first maps material culture studies as a theoretical and conceptual field. The second part covers the relationship between material forms, the body and the senses. The third part focuses on subject-object relations. The fourth part of the book, on process and transformation, considers material culture studies from the perspective of a basic tripartite biography of things. The fifth and final part considers the contemporary politics and poetics of displaying, representing and conserving material forms in the present and the manner in which this impacts on notions of tradition and social identity.
aj Ilmonen was a pioneer in the third wave of the sociology of consumption. This book provides a balanced overview of the sociology of consumption, arguing that the enthusiasm of 'the third wave' exaggerated the role of the symbolic and imaginary at the expense of the materiality of human societies.
What can we learn about the past by studying things? How does the meaning of things, and our relationship to them, change over time? This fascinating collection taps a rich vein of recent scholarship to explore a variety of approaches to the material culture of the early modern world (c.1500-1800).