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The Secret World of Doing Nothing$
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Orvar Lofgren and Billy Ehn

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780520262614

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520262614.001.0001

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(p.79) Chapter Two Routines
The Secret World of Doing Nothing

Billy Ehn

Orvar Löfgren

University of California Press

Routines may be seen as something that induces lack of initiative and flexibility. This chapter focuses on various routines that people tend to follow in their day-to-day life. It opens with a discussion of Harold Crick and the monotonous routine that he used to follow for almost twelve years. Mechanical habits such as those that snared Harold make life shallow. Their reliability becomes a problem rather than a resource. Routines are not only survival techniques or perfunctory patterns; as has been shown by more recent scholarly approaches, they also constitute a cultural field full of tensions. Another issue is how their repetitious nature often hides important changes that eventually may transform them into something else. This chapter brings to attention various situations wherein one follows a specific routine. Ethnographies of makeup teach us much about how routines are made and transformed, depending on context. The coming together of a couple is one of those situations where routines all of a sudden become visible arenas of social and cultural conflicts. Later, this chapter draws attention to the multitasking of things that people try to follow to decrease certain overloads in daily life. It also claims that multitasking is a skill that must be acquired, and once learned it is often invisible, it just comes naturally.

Keywords:   routine, cultural conflicts, multitasking, mechanical habits, Harold Crick, survival techniques

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