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Living spaces : Social construction of habitat: the anthropological and social-historical origins of the house and home from the point of view of its fundamental and continuing significance to civilization

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  1. Definition of civilization
  2. Two sorts of origins of the house and the home
  3. The material aspects of houses
  4. Subjective and social significance of houses
  5. The link between the home and civilization as an organization of society

What could possibly be the common features amongst Inuit Igloos, Native American tepees and Swiss chalets? At face value, there is not much of a similarity as they belong to three very unique cultures. Nevertheless in this situation, it is relevant enough to draw a comparison amongst all these different dwellings. This will be the focus of this essay. Undoubtedly, the truth remains that a distinction has to be made between the many and often very dissimilar human habitations that have been created and instituted until recently. However, one needs to remember that the process of building dwellings or habitation is an interesting process. The characteristic and distinct features of all settled human societies and civilizations is a representation of the meaning of being human itself. Human dwellings are different, however they would continue to share the same origin in the human need for shelter. As a result, to understand the similarity in all human dwellings and habitations, it is a crucial factor to validate and understand the origin of the ?house'.

[...] It aimed to improve the quality of life and the social rank of some ?deserving? citizens who would be offered a house in Prosperity Square. The authorities expected this example to encourage other citizens to become more ?civilized?. At the least it is certain that Prosperity Square functioned as a ?civilizing machine?. It appears in the architecture of the houses. Indeed, large windows and central courtyard allowed people to observe each other, which regulated their behaviours. In fact this organisation - called ?panopticism? by M. [...]


[...] The house is at the centre of this social life and it is also closely connected to the morality of the society. That is why, from its origin, the home has directly contributed to establish the norms of society and, thereby, to define civilization throughout history. Bibliography Architectural Anthropology, The Present Relevance of the Primitive in Architecture, Nold Egenter, Research Series, Structura Mundi, Lausanne 1992 (mainly pps 96 and 177) At Home, An Anthropology of Domestic Space, Edited by Irene Cieraad, Syracuse University Press, New York 1999 (mainly chapters 4 and Colin COBUILD Dictionary on CD-ROM Encarta Encyclopaedia 2007, French Edition, articles called ?Habitat humain? and Aries, P (1962) ?From the Medieval to the Modern Family? in Centuries of Childhood New York; Vintage Bence-Jones, Mark (1987) happiest country I ever knew? in Twilight of the Ascendancy, London; Constable Davis, Mike, ?Fortress Los Angeles: the militarization of urban space? from City of Quartz ?Imprisonment in Castle Rackrent?, K. [...]


[...] Consequently, it establishes a stark link between the home and civilization as an organization of society. Indeed, the household solidarity that we described implies a certain form of authority, which structures the society. This form of authority derives from the origin of the home as well. Weber describes the origin of the home as the biologically-based household that gathers naturally a mother and a child. In this case, the authority that appeared at first in the history of home was matriarchal. [...]

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