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Everyday Life

The History Of The Everyday

The history of everyday life, once the preserve of amateurs, was taken up by academic historians after World War II. In the 1960s, Fernand Braudel produced an ambitious comparative study of material life in the early modern world, viewed as the sphere of routine, as opposed to economic life, the sphere of change. In Germany a little later, there was a movement of social historians such as Hans Medick and Alf Lüdtke under the banner of "the history of the everyday" (Alltagsgeschichte), defining themselves against the scholars interested in the more abstract history of social structures. To join the two approaches, linking the micro level with the macro level, remains an unrealized ambition of historians and social scientists to this day.


Boas, Franz. Race, Language and Culture. New York: Macmillan, 1940.

Braudel, Fernand. The Structures of Everyday Life. London: Collins, 1981. Translation of Les structures du quotidien. A pioneering study of material culture in early modern Europe, first published in 1967.

Certeau, Michel de. The Practice of Everyday Life. Translated by Stephen Rendall. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1984. Translation of L'invention du quotidien. A classic that put the sociological study of everyday life on the intellectual map. Elias, Norbert. "The Concept of Everyday Life." In The Norbert

Elias Reader: A Biographical Selection, edited by Jan Goudsblom and Stephen Mennell, 166–174. Oxford, U.K., and Malden, Mass.: Blackwell Publishers, 1998. An incisive reminder of the ambiguities of the concept. Translation of "Zum Begriff des Alltags."

Freud, Sigmund. Psychopathology of Everyday Life. New York: Macmillan, 1914. Translation of Zur Psychopathologie des Alltagslebens, 1904.

Goffman, Erving. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1959. An influential study, viewing the everyday in terms of drama.

Heller, Agnes. Everyday Life. Translated by G. L. Campbell. London and Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1984. A philosophy of everyday life drawing on Marx, Husserl, and Weber, originally published in Hungarian in 1970.

Lefebvre, Henri. Critique of Everyday Life. London and New York: Verso, 1991. Translation of Critique de la vie quotidienne. A pioneering sociological study, insufficiently appreciated when it was first published in 1947.

Lotman, Juri. "The Poetics of Everyday Behaviour in Russian Eighteenth-Century Culture." In The Semiotics of Russian Culture. Edited by Ann Shukman. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1984.

Lüdtke, Alf. "The Historiography of Everyday Life." In Culture, Ideology and Politics, edited by Raphael Samuel and Gareth Stedman Jones, 38–54. London: Routledge, 1982.

Schutz, Alfred. "On Multiple Realities." In his Collected Papers. Vol. 1. Edited by Maurice Natanson. 3 vols. The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1962–1966. Originally published in 1945.

Scott, James C. Weapons of the Weak. Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1985.

Peter Burke

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Ephemeris to Evolution - Historical BackgroundEveryday Life - Everyday Antiquities, The Everyday In Academic Discourse, The Discovery Of The Everyday, The History Of The Everyday