chapter  1
22 Pages

Objects of Approval

This chapter examines making gift lists as a material practice and how the content, compilation and distribution of these lists changed between 1945 and today. It draws upon Mass-Observation correspondents reports of a change that occurred at the time of their writing. All lists represent an idealized domesticity and encourage continued conformity to that domestic ideal. The version of domesticity changes with different types of list, but its function as a prescription of appropriate family life remains the same. Mass-Observation writing about gift lists and wedding presents can be read as nostalgic. Others, however, wrote about being asked to select from a list, rather than whether they had one, and used the Wedding presents section of the directive to register their opposition to listing as a practice. Sources of social solidarity are understood to belong in the past, sustained by old ways of giving upon marriage that have been discontinued.