A History of Private Life

28 09 2009

Today I heard a fascinating discussion on the radio respnding to an interesting sounding series of programmes on Radio 4 about the history of private life. The discussion today was about the meaning of the home and included Amanda Vickery, Simon Jenkins of the National Trust, anthropologist Daniel Miller and sociologist Elizabeth Silva.

Together they looked at the concerns which have dominated life inside the home for hundreds of years. Why are tussles over who rules the roost a persistent theme? Are modern homes increasingly atomised, separated from local communities and housing an army of home-workers and divorcing couples unable to afford to sell their houses? Or are they predominantly a safe refuge from which householders can show off their exquisite taste and treasured possessions, while leading harmonious and socially integrated lives?

The panel examined which of these and many other views might shape how historians of the future will view the private lives we lead at the beginning of the 21st century. You can find out more about the History of Private Life series and Amanda Vickery’s research behind it here. Interestingly it seems that the series gets its name from a series of books of the same title edited by Georges Duby and Philippe Aries, a French Historian who also wrote influentially about the history of childhood.

You can usually hear programmes like this again on the BBC iPlayer.

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