Conceived by Chris Grey and written to get you thinking, the “Very Short, Fairly Interesting and Reasonably Cheap” series offers an informal, conversational, accessible yet sophisticated and critical overview of what you find in conventional textbooks.

Innumerable Inscrutable Habits: Why Unremarkable Things Matter

How do we see the world as the social science observer does? When you are studying your own society, much of what you see around you may seem ‘obvious’, existing as a mere unnoticed backdrop to your life. So it is tempting to take many things for granted. This temptation is supported by the swiftly changing images we absorb on the Internet and at the movies.

A method used by anthropologists can help us to slow down and look around rather more attentively. When we study familiar situations and events, we can try to make a mental leap and assume that we are observing the behaviour and beliefs of an unknown tribe. The shock in seeing the world ...

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