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Practice of Everyday Life: Volume 2: Living and Cooking

Michel de Certeau
Luce Giard
Pierre Mayol
Edited by Luce Giard
Translated by Timothy J. Tomasik
Copyright Date: 1998
Pages: 342
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  • Book Info
    Practice of Everyday Life
    Book Description:

    To remain unconsumed by consumer society—this was the goal, pursued through a world of subtle and practical means, that beckoned throughout the first volume of The Practice of Everyday Life. The second volume of the work delves even deeper than did the first into the subtle tactics of resistance and private practices that make living a subversive art. Michel de Certeau, Luce Giard, and Pierre Mayol develop a social history of “making do” based on microhistories that move from the private sphere (of dwelling, cooking, and homemaking) to the public (the experience of living in a neighborhood). A series of interviews—mostly with women—allows us to follow the subjects’ individual routines, composed of the habits, constraints, and inventive strategies by which the speakers negotiate daily life. Through these accounts the speakers, “ordinary” people all, are revealed to be anything but passive consumers. Amid these experiences and voices, the ephemeral inventions of the “obscure heroes” of the everyday, we watch the art of making do become the art of living.This long-awaited second volume of de Certeau’s masterwork, updated and revised in this first English edition, completes the picture begun in volume 1, drawing to the last detail the collective practices that define the texture, substance, and importance of the everyday.Michel de Certeau (1925-1986) wrote numerous books that have been translated into English, including Heterologies (1986), The Capture of Speech (1998), and Culture in the Plural (1998), all published by Minnesota. Luce Giard is senior researcher at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and is affiliated with the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris. She is visiting professor of history and history of science at the University of California, San Diego. Pierre Mayol is a researcher in the French Ministry of Culture in Paris.Timothy J. Tomasik is a freelance translator pursuing a Ph.D. in French literature at Harvard University.

    eISBN: 978-1-4529-4354-1
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Translator’s Note
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Timothy J. Tomasik
  4. Introduction to Volume 1: History of a Research Project
    (pp. xiii-xxxiv)
    Luce Giard

    In February 1980, the first French edition ofL’lnvention du quotidienappeared in paperback.¹ The fact that a previously unpublished work, presenting the results of a long-term research project (from the end of 1974 to 1978) of which only a few fragmentary insights had previously been in circulation, was published directly in paperback form was not customary.² Research reports generally await the highly regarded appearance in hardback, or more often disappear into purgatory, into the flotilla of “gray literature” bogged down in the secrecy of government ministries or research centers. The particular treatment received by this work, from the moment...

  5. Times and Places
    (pp. xxxv-xlvi)
    Luce Giard

    It is a strange, bittersweet experience rereading and revising one’s own text fourteen years later. Having appeared in their first edition in February 1980, the two volumes ofL’lnvention du quotidienhad been finished the preceding summer. It was the outcome of a research contract, financed by the DGRST from 1974 to 1977, whose instigator was Augustin Girard, the person then in charge of the Service des Ėtudes et Recherches au Secrėtariat d’Ėtat à la Culture [Department of Research at the State Office for Cultural Affairs].¹ My rereading is tinted with sadness. Michel de Certeau, the soul of this enterprise,...

  6. Entrée

    • The Annals of Everyday Life
      (pp. 3-4)
      Michel de Certeau

      It’s not all that invisible. The intention of this second volume, an undoubtedly more important facet than the explanation of ways of operating and modes of action in the first one,² is precisely to trace the interlacings of a concrete sense of everyday life, to allow them to appear within the space of a memory. Only partial and necessarily limited, these annals of everyday life can only be, in a language of expectation, effects marked by those “obscure heroes” of whom we are the debtors and fellow creatures. This study, a haunted narrativity, thus does not seek to chase the...

  7. Part I: Living

    • Chapter 1 The Neighborhood
      (pp. 7-14)
      Pierre Mayol

      This study on the manners of city living aims at elucidating the cultural practices of city dwellers in the very space of their neighborhood. For a starting point, logical if not chronological, at least two problematics offer themselves as a way to implement the research:

      1.The urban sociology of the neighborhood.It essentially privileges data relative to space and architecture; it takes measurements (surface area, topography, the flux of movements, etc.) and analyzes objective material and administrative constraints that enter into the definition of the neighborhood.

      2.The socioethnographic analysis of everyday life,which proliferates from the erudite research...

    • Chapter 2 Propriety
      (pp. 15-34)
      Pierre Mayol

      The neighborhood is thus defined as a collective organization of individual trajectories; it involves places “close at hand” put at the dwellers’ disposal in which they necessarily meet each other in order to provide for their everyday needs. But the interpersonal contact that takes place in these meetings is itself random, not calculated in advance; it is defined by chance comings and goings involving the necessities of everyday life: in the elevator, at the grocery store, at the market. By going out into the neighborhood, it is impossible not to come across someone you “already know” (a neighbor, a shopkeeper),...

    • Chapter 3 The Croix-Rousse Neighborhood
      (pp. 35-70)
      Pierre Mayol

      The neighborhood of Lyons that we will explore with the R. family is that of the Croix-Rousse; for a long time it was considered one of the more “working-class” neighborhoods of Lyons.¹ The territory designated by this name is vast: the Croix-Rousse is subdivided, from the point of view of the dwellers, into several subsets that are relatively autonomous in respect to one another, but globally comparable in the sociological composition of the population and in the external appearance of the most widespread housing, thecanutbuildings, inhabited in the past by Lyons silk workers [canuts].

      Up until 1852, the...

    • Chapter 4 The Street Trade
      (pp. 71-84)
      Pierre Mayol

      The rue Rivet is neither very long nor very lively: two hundred and twenty yards, perhaps a bit more, cut in half by a small cross street (rue Prunelle) that is the extension of a climbing staircase and that ends in another staircase (rue Ornano). This crossroads is a sort of border: for all the inhabitants, the rue Rivet is divided into two “sides,” clearly opposed to each other. The R.’s live in one of the buildings on the corner of this crossroads and thus are located right on the boundary dividing the street.

      One of the sides, on the...

    • Chapter 5 Bread and Wine
      (pp. 85-100)
      Pierre Mayol

      I would like now to enter further into the relationship that the R. family maintains with what it consumes at home during family meals. More precisely, it seems to me important to analyze the philosophical function that bread and wine occupy in their gastronomy, because, without these two elements, a meal becomes not only inconsistent, but even unthinkable. Foods bought from the shopkeeper remain within a random distribution as long as they have not been ordered by the organization of the meal. They have been chosen (or rather, their class of objects: vegetables, meat, cheese, fruits), but it is in...

    • Chapter 6 The End of the Week
      (pp. 101-114)
      Pierre Mayol

      On Saturdays and Sundays, the neighborhood dwellers can experience various arrangements of their leisure time. Saturdays are preferentially centered on individual leisure time, with Sundays traditionally remaining mobilized by family-type activities. In the working-class milieu where Joseph works, the day off on Saturday is a relatively recent conquest if measured against the span of his professional “career.” This liberation of an unoccupied period of time was the source of a festive reorganization of the week that divides it in a significant way. In Joseph’s work crew, all of whose members have experienced the different stages of this conquest, the true...

    • Chapter 7 “And So for Shopping, There’s Always Robert?”
      (pp. 115-130)
      Pierre Mayol

      The following excerpts come from the double series of interviews conducted in Lyons with two elderly women inhabitants of that city.¹ Madame Marie was eighty-three at the time; a corset maker by trade, first in a high-quality firm downtown and then self-employed at home, she worked until the age of seventy after the death of her husband and continued to live alone in her apartment in the Croix-Rousse. Madame Marguerite was seventy-seven at the time of these interviews and passed away before the completion of this study. Employed in an import-export firm, where she ended up in a managerial position,...

  8. Intermezzo

    • Chapter 8 Ghosts in the City
      (pp. 133-144)
      Michel de Certeau and Luce Giard

      The strategy that, yesterday, aimed at a development of new urban spaces has been little by little transformed into a rehabilitation of national heritage. After having considered the city in the future, does one begin to consider it in the past, like a space for journeys in itself, a deepening of its histories? A city henceforth haunted by its strangeness—Paris—rather than taken to extremes that reduce the present to nothing more than scraps from which a future escapes—New York.

      In Paris, this reversal was not sudden. Already, within the grid pattern of functionalist planners, obstacles sprang up,...

    • Chapter 9 Private Spaces
      (pp. 145-148)
      Michel de Certeau and Luce Giard

      The territory where the basic gestures of “ways of operating” are deployed and repeated from day to day is first of all domestic space, this abode to which one longs to “withdraw,” because once there, “one can have peace.” One “returns to one’s home,” to one’s own place, which, by definition, cannot be the place of others. Here every visitor is an intruder unless he or she has been explicitly and freely invited to enter. Even in this case, the guest must know how to “remain in his or her place,” not to allow himself or herself to circulate from...

  9. Part II: Doing-Cooking

    • Chapter 10 The Nourishing Arts
      (pp. 151-170)
      Luce Giard

      What follows very much involves the (privileged?) role of women in the preparation of meals eaten at home. But this is not to say that I believe in an immanent and stable feminine nature that dooms women to housework and gives them a monopoly over both the kitchen and the tasks of interior organization.¹ Since the time when Europe left its geographic borders in the sixteenth century and discovered the difference of other cultures, history and anthropology have taught us that the sharing of work between the sexes, initiation rites, and diets, or what Mauss calls “body techniques,”² are reliant...

    • Chapter 11 Plat du jour
      (pp. 171-198)
      Luce Giard

      Every alimentary custom makes up a minuscule crossroads of histories. In the “invisible everyday,”¹ under the silent and repetitive system of everyday servitudes that one carries out by habit, the mind elsewhere, in a series of mechanically executed operations whose sequence follows a traditional design dissimulated under the mask of the obvious, there piles up a subtle montage of gestures, rites, and codes, of rhythms and choices, of received usage and practiced customs. In the private space of domestic life, far from worldly noises, the Kitchen Women Nation’s voice murmurs that it is done this way because it has always...

    • Chapter 12 Gesture Sequences
      (pp. 199-214)
      Luce Giard

      How can one find the right words, words that are rather simple, ordinary, and precise, to recount these sequences of gestures, bound together over and over again, that weave the indeterminate cloth of culinary practices within the intimacy of kitchens? How can one choose words that are true, natural, and vibrant enough to make felt the weight of the body, the joyfulness or weariness, the tenderness or irritation that takes hold of you in the face of this continually repeated task where the better the result (a stuffed chicken, a pear tart), the faster it is devoured, so that before...

    • Chapter 13 The Rules of the Art
      (pp. 215-222)
      Luce Giard

      Knowing how, learning how, and telling about how to do things: the fade-in and fade-out of gestures, the sldllfulness of certain knacks, these things too need words and text in order to circulate within the Kitchen Women Nation. These people have their own language and corpus of reference, as well as their own secrets and complicities—an “implicit, well-known” knowledge that the most detailed of recipes will not communicate to you.

      The language used in talking about cooking involves four distinct domains of objects or actions: the ingredients that serve as raw materials; the utensils and pots and pans, as...

    • Chapter 14 “When It Comes Down to It, Cooking Worries Me ...”
      (pp. 223-248)
      Luce Giard

      The following is the complete text of one of the interviews solicited on feminine culinary practices. Marie Ferrier collected and transcribed this discussion with Irene, who was forty-four at the time. Born and raised in a Francophone country, Irene has lived in Paris for more than twenty years. She has always worked full-time and is currendy a private secretary in a publishing company. She is married to Jean, a writer and translator. Their daughter Sarah was ten at the time of the interview. Jean has two sons from a previous marriage, Emmanuel and Pierre, who were eighteen and sixteen at...

  10. Envoi

    • A Practical Science of the Singular
      (pp. 251-256)
      Michel de Certeau and Luce Giard

      Considering culture as it is practiced, not in what is most valued by official representation or economic politics, but in what upholds it and organizes it, three priorities stand out: orality, operations, and the ordinary. All three of them come back to us through the detour of a supposed foreign scene,popular culture, which has benefited from numerous studies on oral traditions, practical creativity, and the actions of everyday life. One more step is necessary to break down this fictive barrier and recognize that in truth it concernsour culture, without our being aware of it. This is because the...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 257-286)
  12. Index
    (pp. 287-292)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 293-293)