Celf Specialization: The Centrality of Home, Modern Material Culture
Jeanne E. Arnold is Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Channel Islands Laboratory at the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA. At the UCLA Sloan Center on Everyday Lives of Families, she leads the group that developed a series of ethnoarchaeological investigative methods focused on modern material culture and the physical domain of contemporary U.S. households. The CELF team of scholars has gathered detailed, family-by-family data on house-and-grounds floors plans, objects in the home, family uses of spaces in homes, and family members' perspectives on their homes. For our sample of 32 dual-earner, middle-class, Los Angeles area families, CELF has assembled, for example, a coded digital photographic archive of thousands of images, a tracking data archive (each family's uses of home spaces at systematic 10-minute intervals), and sets of self-narrated home-tour videos. Arnold also has done traditional archaeological research on pre-colonial political evolution, complex hunter-gatherers, and indigenous households for more than 25 years in western North America, including the Channel Islands of California and the Fraser River Valley of British Columbia.
The ethnoarchaeology domain of the CELF project focuses on the material culture of middle-class family lives, including the physical house and grounds, the possessions of the family, and the diverse challenges inherent in maintaining a house and overall family well-being at home for busy working parents. This theme, or set of research goals, is collectively labeled “The Centrality of Home: Material Culture and the Place of the Home in Middle-Class Family Lives.” The CELF databases allow rapid access to rich spatial and temporal records of working family life, providing for an array of qualitative and small-scale quantitative analyses about activities, objects, and time use in the home. Arnold's current CELF projects focus on the middle-class storage and clutter crisis, the vanishing leisure of dual-earner parents, and family identity embodied in the home and its artifacts. The article “Changing American Home Life: Trends in Domestic Leisure and Storage among Middle-Class Families” will appear in Journal of Family and Economic Issues in 2007.