Ethnography of Families and Technology

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From 2002 to 2005, before reality TV ruled the earth, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, laboriously recruited 32 local families, videotaping nearly every waking, at-home moment during a week — including the Jacket Standoff.

But the U.C.L.A. project was an effort to capture a relatively new sociological species: the dual-earner, multiple-child, middle-class American household. The investigators have just finished working through the 1,540 hours of videotape, coding and categorizing every hug, every tantrum, every soul-draining search for a missing soccer cleat.

“This is the richest, most detailed, most complete database of middle-class family living in the world,” said Thomas S. Weisner, a professor of anthropology at U.C.L.A. who was not involved in the research. “What it does is hold up a mirror to people. They laugh. They cringe. It shows us life as it is actually lived.”

After more than $9 million and untold thousands of hours of video watching, they have found that, well, life in these trenches is exactly what it looks like: a fire shower of stress, multitasking and mutual nitpicking. And the researchers found plenty to nitpick themselves.

Source: Families’ Every Fuss, Archived and Analyzed