Sociological Theory 26 (4):324-343 (2008)
Much commentary indicates that, starting from the 19th century, the home has become the privileged site of private life. In doing so it has established an increasingly rigid separation between the private and public spheres. This article does not disagree with this basic conviction. But we argue that, in more recent times, there has been a further development, in that the private life of the home has been carried into the public sphere--what we call "the domestication of public space." This has led to a further attenuation of public life, especially as regards sociability. It has also increased the perception that what is required is a better "balance" between public and private. We argue that this misconstrues the nature of the relation of public to private in those periods that attained the greatest degree of sociability, and that not "balance" but "reciprocity" is the desired condition.
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