While few people live in constant show home environments, Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century reveals middle-class households closer to chaos. The thirty-two featured southern California households reinforce contemporary consumer trends in the United States that continue to shape living around the world: mountains of possessions, poor eating habits, vanishing leisure time, underutilized space, more screen time and a propensity to personalize.

However much we read into consumer trends, we can read just as much into the way we analyze trends. Using systematic observations and other corporate anthropology techniques can often produce a more nuanced and interesting view of reality. Archaeologists usually don’t send out surveys.


Update: More evidence of spreading consumerism, this time in China.