Material Culture, Analysis of


Material culture—the physical matter with which humans engage to produce and perform their social worlds—is a truly expansive theme harbouring significance for researchers engaged in diverse topics, and the analysis of material culture has, as a result, come to encompass numerous diverse strands of enquiry over the years. This entry explores what “methods of analysis” might mean in relation to the field of material culture studies, touching on the plethora of methods that are deployed across the various disciplines that seek to examine the material world. However, rather than structuring the entry around these methods, the ensuing sections orient their analyses around the broader set of analytical paradigms of which they are a part. The entry thus progresses through three central themes in the contemporary study of material culture: objects, environments, and immateriality, outlining some of the major bodies of work that have emerged within each of these over the past century and the ways in which they have fed into, and been challenged by, contemporary modes of analysis. A short conclusion reflects on future methodological challenges for material culture studies.

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