Timo HeimerdingerAnne Koch

It looks and blinks

The mail-order catalog "Die moderne Hausfrau" as a promise of problem-solving and Joie de Vivre

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The article deals with a specific material-cultural segment of household and home furnishings as part of everyday experience and interpretation practice. It develops the thesis that these objects and their text-image marketing serve as an externalization and hiding of basic human problem potentials which are of a social, practical, emotional and spiritual-religious nature. The focus is not on problems but on solutions. This strategy is analyzed as functional regarding the regulation of vital issues and, thus, interpreted as part of a popular emancipatory everyday strategy: Always look on the bright side of life! Due to the breadth of needs mentioned above, cultural studies approaches which are influenced by folklore and religious studies cooperate and identify the popular everyday aesthetics style using the example of the mail-order catalog Die moderne Hausfrau (‘The Modern Housewife’), which has existed since 1967. You will find everyday household helpers, such as decorative items around the kitchen, home, garden and cemetery, in this low-price range of goods. The products are promoted in a mix of information, visualization and entertaining narrative framing, which is typical of this market segment and which we conceptualize as enchantment and a promise of problem solving. The essay includes, as a contribution to research into material culture, references to living space, wall decoration and popular culture research, as well as religious economics and aesthetics.

everyday aesthetics, home decor, popular religion, material culture, mass taste, mail-order catalog

Heimerdinger, T. & Koch A. (2019). It looks and blinks: The mail-order catalog "Die moderne Hausfrau" as a promise of problem-solving and Joie de Vivre. Journal for European Ethnology and Cultural Analysis, 4(2), 166-187. https://www.waxmann.com/artikelART104094