Michelle Janning, Ph.D.

2016 Janning PhotoHi. My name is Michelle Janning. My number one goal is to share my research and writing with a wide audience. I love it when what I share makes people think of new ways to understand their own stories about family, culture, everyday life, relationships, and their material world. My newest adventures are my book The Stuff of Family Life: How our Homes Reflect our Lives  and my essay collection entitled Between: Living Life in Neither Extreme. I’m a writer, public speaker, chair of the Council on Contemporary Families, Whitman College sociology professor, researcher, musician, mother, wife, amateur decorator, beginning learner of five languages, traveler, and volunteer with some non-profit groups. Sometimes I get asked to share ideas with journalists, in speeches, and in guest writings based on my research. Because I often mix parts of my life, enjoy seeing how the boundaries between them are permeable, and connect the personal and the professional (often in humorous ways), the theme of my work is to embrace the “between-ness” of life. You can contact me here.

photo by Ali Walker
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The Stuff of Family Life Reviews

“The Stuff of Family Life, by Michelle Janning, is a fascinating sociological exploration of what material goods say about people and society…. The book is intelligent. It is also a relatable and entertaining read…. The Stuff of Family Life is an illuminating, well-researched and remarkable book. The insights it offers afford an opportunity to examine the personal effects every family surrounds themselves with and to perhaps find insight into who they are as individuals, as families, and as members of society.”
Foreword Reviews

“Have you ever considered why your house has a dining room? Or have you thought about which rooms in your house are public (such as the living room) or private (like the bedroom)? Sociologist Janning looks at spaces and items in modern American homes to understand the boundaries between public and private lives for families, examine how homes illustrate broader social issues, and discuss how homes shape lives. For each section of her analysis, she chooses two objects to illustrate larger implications and relationships. For example, LEGO bricks allow Janning to explore modern childhood and approaches to parenting. LEGOs demonstrate what ‘good parenting’ looks like for a specific socioeconomic class: toys that are educational and enjoyed safely indoors. Her writing is conversational and humorous as she explains various research projects and sociological concepts. Whether familiar with sociological methods or not, readers will be fascinated by Janning’s ideas and the connections she draws between household items and family life.”