Helen Holmes
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Material relationships
Object interviews as a means of studying everyday life
in Mundane Methods
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Since the material turn researchers have been exploring new ways to engage with the objects and materials of everyday life. Such methods aim to overcome subject–object binaries, placing the very substance of materials at the core of their inquiry (Gregson and Crewe, 1998). This chapter takes one such approach – object interviews – to explore how objects and materials structure our everyday lives and relationships. This method involves not only unearthing the significance of objects to their owners, but also, importantly, investigating the biography of the object itself. Drawing on the work of Humphries and Smith (2014) such an approach reveals an object’s materiality, biography and practice. It explores how an object’s material qualities – its fibres, textures, patterns and forms (Miller, 2005) – influence the relationship we have with it. Objects form part of networks with other objects, they have past and future lives, they enable and afford certain practices and activities, and they often play a central role in the relationships we have with others. They are a crucial component in everyday life. This chapter offers empirical examples of object interviews, alongside tips on how to use this method both as a form of inquiry and a focus of study.

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Mundane Methods

Innovative ways to research the everyday


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