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Styles (2006) on lodging-houses, the homes of the poor and evidence for them Exercise 3.5.3

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 Styles (2006) on lodging-houses, the homes of the poor and evidence for them Exercise 3.5.3

I want to use this exercise to reflect again on different kinds of evidence in architectural history. Linked to this is the ever-present concentration on ‘thing theory’ and materiality in the literature. This is something we need to come to terms with, since the issue about the definition of things, objects and commodification and mass-production are all interlinked but I still really only have the pointers from the course on this and may need more reading.

In its portrayal of work on interiors this section has concentrated on ‘probate inventories’ as evidence of the materials in which we see, often though in list-form rather than ordered as an appearance, which they also were, the home-interiors of the rich and ‘middling’ (that horrible vague word. There is important evidence taken on the importance of a population of single women on p. 11 (original 70).

The persons dealt with by styles own nothing, rent (by choice it is somewhere naively said). The whole issue seems to be that the role of CHOICE and agency raised by probate inventories in the life of the rich can’t be applicable to this class in which choice of accommodation was limited by income and unmet needs raised by a way of living they would not have chosen anyway. Now too things can’t be presumed to be owned by these persons. We move from probate inventories to police inventories related to theft. Here an issue rises between the ownership of things between tenant lodger and landlord.

Very interesting data is raised in comparing these inventories in changes of the relative importance to owners, tenants and criminals of item types – linen staying stable in importance (with good critical-caveats) but the importance of metalwork things, often utilitarian rising). The reflection on this evidence comes on p. 10 (original 69).

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