Blue Jeans: The Art of the Ordinary
Daniel Miller & Sophie Woodward
University of California, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book
Reviewed by Bob Walch
ike most people, you probably have a pair of denim pants or jeans in the closet. In fact, you may have multiple pairs. Research indicates that with the exception of South Asia and China, close to half the population on a given day are wearing jeans.
he global average indicates that individuals wear jeans three to five days a week. And, in countries like the U.S., Russia and South Korea, 31 percent of the population own three to four pairs of jeans.
ecause of the popularity of jeans and the fact that they are found around the globe rather than in just a handful of countries, Daniel Miller and Sophie Woodward decided to focus on this clothing staple in this book.
This project was intended to use denim both to address issues such as globalization and local differences and to think about how social science could examine specific local cultural forms and at the same time deal with items that seem ubiquitous across the world,
' explain the authors.
From the research of the scholars who joined with us in this project have emerged some tentative answers to the larger question of why people wear blue jeans.
he authors focus on a North London neighborhood to investigate their topic. In the first section of the book they look at the ethnography of jeans wearing. A key part of this effort was to interview individuals and ask them about their life history through jeans and also about their current jeans-wearing practices.
ext, the focus switched to considering denim as clothing and assessing the changing relationship people have with their jeans, as well as how this may change over the course of one's life. The emphasis here was upon the links between jeans, generations and life stages as well as people's purchase of jeans and how they use jeans to order and organize different aspects of their lives.
n the following chapters of this book, the issues delve into such factors as the
of wearing jeans, the idea that jeans are worn to '
cultivate the art of being ordinary
' and why prople might want to do this.
combination of anthropology, sociology and philosophy, this fascinating look at blue jeans and why we wear them may make you pause next time you slip into your pants and wonder if there's more going on here than just the fact that the clothing is comfortable.
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