Informations and abstract
Much historical writing in the last forty years has made "everyday life", the experiences, actions and habits of ordinary people a legitimate object of historical inquiry. This paper explores the history, politics, methodological assumptions, strengths and weaknesses of these forms of history inquiry, placing them in the context of other social scientific writing - in critical theory, sociology and cultural studies - since World War II. I focus on three debates that transcend the disciplines. The first centres on the effects - both adverse and benign - of commercial society, capitalism and consumerism on modern everyday life, and is as much concerned with critical theory as with historical scholarship. The second examines the debates between Sartre, Levi-Strauss and (to a lesser extent) Braudel about the nature and hierarchy of the social sciences in the 1950s and 1960s. The third discusses differing conceptions of time in both historical and critical writing about everyday life.