Offering an expose of a street in modern London, the The Comfort of Things leads us behind closed doors to thirty people who live there, showing their intimate lives, their aspirations and frustrations, their tragedies and accomplishments. He places the focus upon the things that really matter to the people he meets, which often turn out to be material things.
Daniel Miller , professor of material culture at University College London, suggests that there is a “so far unexplored potential legacy of anthropological perspectives on the world which emerges if we dissolve away our usual dualism between the individual and some larger category of society or culture.”
The “portrayed” households failed to fit the kinds of categories that are used to subsume individuals in social sciences. In some respects they could be classified as “working class” or “Brazilian”or “gay” etc., but “none of these categories really capture what is richest about our encounters with them.” By using a random London street as his unit of inquiry, Miller had to describe whoever opened the door to their homes thus they were not chosen “as tokens of social science notions of identity.”
Think microethnography/voyeurism written from within an academic background but in a style that emulated more literary models rather than academic genres of writing.
If you would like to read more/similar, check out The Journal of Material Culture.