Material World: A Global Family Portrait Hardcover – Oct 11 1994
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In honor of the United Nations-sponsored International Year of the Family in 1994, award-winning photojournalist Peter Menzel brought together 16 of the world's leading photographers to create a visual portrait of life in 30 nations. Material World tackles its wide subject by zooming in, allowing one household to represent an entire nation. Photographers spent one week living with a "statistically average" family in each country, learning about their work, their attitudes toward their possessions, and their hopes for the future. Then a "big picture" shot of the family was taken outside the dwelling, surrounded by all their (many or few) material goods.
The book provides sidebars offering statistics and a brief history for each country, as well as personal notes from the photographers about their experiences. But it is the "big pictures" that tell most of the story. In one, a British family pauses before a meal of tea and crumpets under a cloudy sky. In another, wary Bosnians sit beside mattresses used as sniper barricades. A Malian family composed of a husband, his two wives, and their children rests before a few cooking and washing implements in golden afternoon light. Material World is a lesson in economics and geography, reminding us of the world's inequities, but also of humanity's common threads. An engrossing, enlightening book. --Maria Dolan --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
From School Library Journal
YA?A fascinating look at the material possessions of families throughout the world. These people have been determined "average" for their countries and have agreed to have photographers move the contents of their houses outside in order to create visible representations of their relative standards of living. The dirt house and few possessions of Mali residents contrast with the 4 cars, 45-foot long sofa, and 12+ oriental carpets lined up outside the luxury home of a family from Kuwait. Each chapter includes the original spread of possessions, statistics about each family and country, as well as further pictures of daily life and some observations by the photographer. Interspersed among the chapters, which are divided by region, are pictorial representations of such interesting comparisons as televisions, meals, and toilets. Almost all of the pictures are in full color. Menzel hoped this would be "a unique tool for grasping cross-cultural realities." It is that and much more.?Susan H. Woodcock, King's Park Library, Burke, VA
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
The value of each family's possessions, as well as the family's values (what's important to them, etc.) are stressed. However, I noticed that while standard of living may differ considerably, everyone, no matter their location, seems to want bascially the same thing: education, a better life for their children, security, etc. This realization was perhaps the best part of the book for me.
What also impressed me was the fact that this book is filled to the brim. There's no way to read it cover-to-cover, really. Instead, it's more of an experience. It must be taken in. Every time I pick it up, I see something differently, in a new light.
You don't have to be an economist or an anthropologist to enjoy this book. On the contrary, anyone who has any interest at all in the outside world would enjoy it. Because the photographers spent so much time with each family, I truly felt like I was transported to each country, like I had a more complete understanding of what it was like to live there.
The residents weren't just faceless, nameless inhabitants of a distant land but were brought to life. And since it was basically told in their own words, very little to no bias is able to come through. Lastly, I have to congratulate the authors for putting together a balanced portrait of life around the globe. The choices were well-made and quite diverse.
The book is organized by continent, and then by country within each continent. Each entry begins with a multi-page photo of the family in front of their house, with of all their possessions. Beside the photo is an enumeration of the possessions that appear in the photo. The remainder of the article is found on the next 3 or 4 pages. There is usually a short summary of statistics about the country, covering such topics as area, population, population density, life expectancy, and rank of affluence among U.N. member countries. But much more informative are a variety of high-quality color photos showing family members going about their daily activities, at work, at school, or eating a meal in the family home. There is a brief text about the family itself, who they are, what they do, and where they live. The photographer also provides a brief summary of his or her experiences while living with the family and taking the photographs. In the photographer's notes are statistics about the work week, the number of radios, telephones, televisions, VCRs, and automobiles. The photographer also asks each family member to identify their most valued possessions and their dreams for the future.
The choice of the family to convey both the ideal and the reality of a typical "American" family was perfect. They have the requisite two children, one of each gender, and a dog. They are shown outside their ranch-style house, with a fairly new pickup truck and minivan in their attached garage.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Low price, shipping fast! This book is very interesting! One corner of the cover was folded tho.Published 5 months ago by Isabelle Vallières
I am an elementary geography teacher and am using this book as a series of lessons. Its a great book to inspire kids to really think about life elsewhere and what's important. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Trish
I really enjoy everything about it. Thank you.
Also recommended: Women in the Material World
This is my favorite book - ever. So frequently we don't bother to really know about other people on our planet, so to see global life from the individual's viewpoint is surprising... Read morePublished on Feb. 20 2003
We have looked at this book over and over again. It gives great insight into other cultures and how people all over the world live their lives (mostly with fewer material... Read morePublished on Jan. 26 2002 by Michelle Mathiot
At a familiy's dinner table:
FATHER: You know, we're lucky,
CHILDREN: Oh no, here we go again.
FATHER: we have health, food, a home, a vehicle, ... Read more
Every time I pick up this book and thumb through it, I am profoundly changed for the rest of the day. You will be too. Read morePublished on Aug. 29 2000 by Jim Owen
What does the average Ethiopian home look like? What is the average Cuban family's hope for the future? How much does a carrot cost on the black Market in Bosnia? Read morePublished on June 27 2000 by H. Wakenshaw
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