chapter  2
34 Pages

China and Pyrex: The Practices of Preservation

The status of Mass-Observation as ethnography proper and therefore as an appropriate source for the study of domesticity, consumption or everyday life is ambiguous. In its early inter-war days, it had some very eminent anthropological critics, no less than Bronislaw Malinowski and Raymond Firth. This chapter examines the methods and sources employed in the study of domesticity and domestic material culture in order to make some assessment of the academic field to which this chapter, 'The Wedding Present' belongs. The Contemporary Mass-Observation Project, of which the Giving and Receiving Presents directive is a small part, may be viewed as redressing the problems of the early Mass-Observation material and placing new work on a surer academic footing by only drawing upon one of its early methods: the panel of writers. The chapter includes the Giving and Receiving Presents directive, an ethnographic project because it lines up so well with Geertzs account of the inevitability of ethnography as constructing a reading.