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Hedonizing Technologies

Paths to Pleasure in Hobbies and Leisure

Rachel P. Maines

Publication Year: 2009

Rachel P. Maines’s latest work examines the rise of hobbies and leisure activities in Western culture from antiquity to the present day. As technologies are "hedonized," consumers find increasing pleasure in the hobbies’ associated tools, methods, and instructional literature. Work once essential to survival and comfort—gardening, hunting, cooking, needlework, home mechanics, and brewing—have gradually evolved into hobbies and recreational activities. As a result, the technologies associated with these pursuits have become less efficient but more appealing to the new class of leisure artisans. Maines interprets the growth and economic significance of hobbies in terms of broad consumer demand for the technologies associated with them. Hedonizing Technologies uses bibliometric and retail census data to show the growth in world markets for hobby craft tools, books, periodicals, and materials from the late 18th century to today. The book addresses basic issues in the history of labor and industry and makes an original contribution to the discussion of how technology and people interact.

Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press


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pp. vii


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pp. ix-x

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pp. 1-2

In 1978 family sociologists Jay Mancini and Dennis Orthner published a paper in the Journal of Sex Research reporting the results of a survey of leisure preferences among couples in a southwestern city. The top pick among the men was predictable: 45 percent preferred to spend their spare time having sex, with “attending athletic events” and “reading books”...

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1 What Is a Hedonizing Technology?

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pp. 3-18

Any technology that privileges the pleasures of production over the value and/or significance of the product can be a hedonizing technology. One would intuitively suppose that some technologies would resist hedonizing—coal mining and air traffc control, for example, and ironing and darning among domestic activities— but one would be wrong...

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2 Leisure and Necessity

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pp. 19-39

C. M. Woolgar’s 1999 study The Great Household in Late Medieval England portrays a social stratum that was, in the period 1066–1500, so thoroughly separated from productive work that mealtimes for members of the nobility could run to three hours. Servants, mostly male even in the Great Wardrobe, labored night and day to produce food, clothing, ale, and beer, clean laundry...

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3 Hedonization and Industrialization: Diverging Paths in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

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pp. 40-64

Nerylla Taunton’s lavishly illustrated guide for collectors, Antique Needlework Tools and Embroideries, opens with a chapter on the seventeenth century, because, the author tells us, “apart from thimbles” this century is the one from which “the earliest needlework implements [are] available today for collectors.”1 Although Taunton does not say so...

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4 The Hedonizing Marketplace

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pp. 65-115

So many technologies became hedonized in the United States and Britain between the middle of the nineteenth century and the end of the twentieth that it would be nearly impossible to enumerate them all, or to do justice to the explosion of ideas, not only for the uses of leisure time on the part of consumers, but for developing markets of tools, materials, and publications...

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5 Why, When, and How Do Technologies Hedonize?

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pp. 116-128

The end of World War II brought a wave of prosperity to the United States, at the time the only major economic power in the world with an intact manufacturing base. Both men and women sought occupations for their leisure, which had been slowly but surely increasing as labor movements “brought us the weekend,” as the bumper sticker has it, and shorter working days. Even non-union whitecollar workers benefited from the long uptrend...


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pp. 129-146


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pp. 147-198


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pp. 199-204


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pp. 205-211

E-ISBN-13: 9780801897948
E-ISBN-10: 0801897947
Print-ISBN-13: 9780801891465
Print-ISBN-10: 0801891469

Page Count: 224
Illustrations: 21 halftones, 10 line drawings
Publication Year: 2009