Beyond Consumption: Social Relationships, Material Culture, and Identity View Full Text


Ontology type: schema:Chapter     


Chapter Info

DATE

2009

AUTHORS

Christa M. Beranek

ABSTRACT

Research on the relationship between the merchant elite, material culture, and identity has focused on consumption and purchase of goods, especially of newly available luxury goods. Some archaeological work attaches the very nature of modern individuality to consumption of the mass-produced items available after the 1760s. This chapter explores the identity of the patriarch of a rural merchant family in eighteenth-century Massachusetts, Eleazer Tyng, employing an approach that deemphasizes consumption and begins to consider historically contingent notions of individuality as part of a holistic study of identity encompassing status, ethnicity, and gender. Material culture was integral to the ways in which Tyng enacted and reshaped his identity and his affiliation with social groups and cultural ideals, but he made very selective use of new consumer goods. By examining incongruities or disjunctures in the material record, Tyng’s personal choices that position him in relationship to the debates and ideals of his day become evident. Tyng was aware of the revolution in consumer goods for the social rituals of drinking and dining that took place during his lifetime, but seems to have chosen not to participate in them at his own home, despite his construction of a fashionable Georgian mansion. Rather, both the construction of his grand house and his self-presentation through clothing and portraiture point to continual reshaping of himself in his later years. Concepts of gentility, pre-Revolutionary debates over manliness and politics, culturally specific notions of old age and retirement, and his rural residence all influenced Tyng. The uneven or “scrappy” (Buchli, 1999) archaeological and documentary records do not detract from understanding Tyng as an individual; instead, they force us to acknowledge the multiple influences to which individuals in the past were subject and to grapple with this complexity. More... »

PAGES

163-183

Book

TITLE

The Materiality of Individuality

ISBN

978-1-4419-0497-3
978-1-4419-0498-0

Identifiers

URI

http://scigraph.springernature.com/pub.10.1007/978-1-4419-0498-0_10

DOI

http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-0498-0_10

DIMENSIONS

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