Home: The Foundations of Belonging: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Home: The Foundations of Belonging

1st Edition

By Paul O'Connor


198 pages

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pub: 2019-04-15
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Questions of home and belonging have never been more topical. Populist politicians in both Europe and America play on anxieties over globalisation by promising to reconstitute the national home, through cutting immigration and ‘taking back control’. Increasing numbers of young people are unable to afford home-ownership, a trend with implications for the future shape of families and communities. The dominant conceptualisations of home in the twentieth century – the nation-state and the suburban nuclear household – are in crisis, yet they continue to shape our personal and political aspirations. Home: The Foundations of Belonging puts these issues into context by drawing on a range of disciplines to offer a deep anthropological and historical perspective on home. Beginning with a vision of modernity as characterised by both spiralling liminality and an ongoing quest for belonging, it plumbs the archaic roots of Western civilisation and assembles a wide body of comparative anthropological evidence to illuminate the foundations of a sense of home. Home is theorised as a stable centre around which we organise both everyday routines and perspectives on reality, bringing order to a chaotic world and overcoming liminality. Constituted by a set of ongoing processes which concentrate and embody meaning in intimate relationships, everyday rituals and familiar places, a shared home becomes the foundation for community and society. The Foundations of Belonging thus elevates ‘home’ to the position of a foundational sociological and anthropological concept at a moment when the crisis of globalisation has opened the way to a revaluation of the local.

Table of Contents



1. Antaeus and Hercules

2. The Web of Meaning

3. The Cultivation of Place

4. The Landscape of Memory

5. Habits of Home

6. A Sacred Economy

7. Gifting and Recognition

8. The Boundaries of Home

9. Parish and Province

Conclusion: The Future of Home

About the Author

Paul O'Connor completed his PhD at University College Cork. He is currently assistant professor of sociology at the United Arab Emirates University, where he specialises in cultural sociology.

About the Series

Contemporary Liminality

Contemporary Liminality

This series constitutes a forum for works that make use of concepts such as ‘imitation’, ‘trickster’ or ‘schismogenesis’, but which chiefly deploy the notion of ‘liminality’, as the basis of a new, anthropologically-focused paradigm in social theory. With its versatility and range of possible uses rivalling and even going beyond mainstream concepts such as ‘system’ ‘structure’ or ‘institution’, liminality is increasingly considered a new master concept that promises to spark a renewal in social thought.

In spite of the fact that charges of Eurocentrism or even ‘moderno-centrism’ are widely discussed in sociology and anthropology, it remains the case that most theoretical tools in the social sciences continue to rely on taken-for-granted approaches developed from within the modern Western intellectual tradition, whilst concepts developed on the basis of extensive anthropological evidence and which challenged commonplaces of modernist thinking, have been either marginalised and ignored, or trivialised. By challenging the assumed neo-Kantian and neo-Hegelian foundations of modern social theory, and by helping to shed new light on the fundamental ideas of major figures in social theory, such as Nietzsche, Dilthey, Weber, Elias, Voegelin, Foucault and Koselleck, whilst also establishing connections between the perspectives gained through modern social and cultural anthropology and the central concerns of classical philosophical anthropology Contemporary Liminality offers a new direction in social thought.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General