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The Myth of Everyday Life: Toward a Heterology of the Ordinary

Sandywell, B. (2004) The Myth of Everyday Life: Toward a Heterology of the Ordinary. Cultural Studies, 18 (2.3). pp. 160-180. ISSN 0950-2386

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The aim of this paper is to contribute to the rethinking of everyday life as a central, if highly diverse and problematic, theme of modern philosophy and social theory. The focus of the essay concerns the uncertain ontological status of 'the everyday' within the human sciences. An initial exploration of the ambiguity of the expression 'everyday life' points to a more consequential type of undecidability once it is fully recognized how the ideology of 'everyday life' functions to suppress the materiality, contingency, and historicity of human experience. This can be seen in the contrast between powerful atemporal conceptions of everyday life and more critical understandings of the lifeworld framed in temporal categories. The distinction between everyday life and lifeworld proves useful as a marker for two very different approaches to the ordinary. The paper claims that the ordinary has been systematically denigrated in the very act of being theorized as 'everyday life'. A tradition of binary and dichotomous theorizing is uncovered as one of the fundamental sources of the myth of an ahistorical, unmediated everyday life. After mapping a range of more reflexive perspectives toward the investigation of ordinary life, the paper concludes on a positive and reconstructive note by suggesting that any attempt to go beyond the dualisms and antinomies of contemporary theory must first abandon this mythology to reveal the histor(icit)y and alterity of lifeworlds in their rich natural, incarnate, political, and reflexive imbrications.

Item Type: Article
Institution: The University of York
Academic Units: The University of York > Sociology (York)
Depositing User: York RAE Import
Date Deposited: 23 Jun 2009 13:03
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2009 13:03
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0950238042000201464
Status: Published
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Identification Number: 10.1080/0950238042000201464
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/5954

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