Home appliances: the best friends of modern life

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Washing Machines, TV and all the other appliances changed our life in a very deep way, and much more our social habits.

Francesco Morace, sociologist and journalist
Francesco Morace, sociologist and journalist

The electrical appliances has had a positive effect on human health, alleviating the burden of fatigue and improving domestic hygiene. But we must not ignore the fact that the most important appliances have also produced some very noticeable changes in the relationships among people and family members. “In the long crisis that we are experiencing – says Francesco Morace, influential sociologist and journalist – the personal and family well-being are the priority. The appliances are no longer, therefore, a status symbol but life companions that simplify everyday life and play a real emotional role”. First of all, they equalized the relationship between male and female in the house. Today single men are more numerous than ones and they are learning, in their turn, many domestic skills. The relationship with the washing machine is still very feminine, unlike other appliances. “The meal preparation – Morace explains – and is increasingly shared with friends, relatives and children. The great media success of the chefs and kitchen Tv shows has encouraged the development of this new dimension. Francesco Morace has written an interesting essay that analyzes the relationship between security and insecurity in modern society. In this publication, the sociologist emphasizes the contribution that consumption must give in raising life quality and fostering relationships. “At a time when happiness joines and not divides – Morace writes – the role of any product also changes, and the consumer may have to fill in a space in which the subject demands a compensation of affection, a relationship of trust with the outside world, which otherwise proves threatening. The search of serenity, comfort, quality of time and space, are also confirmed by the success of aesthetic and projects for home and body moving towards comfort excellent”

Francesco Morace and the new sociology
Francesco Morace founded with Linda Gobbi Future Concept Lab in 1995, a company that reflects the heritage of Trends Lab, a project born in 1989 in collaboration with two other sociologists, Roberto Brognara and Fabrizio Valente, with the aim of creating a center for 'sociology of innovation for marketing’. This creates an international network of correspondents in the capitals of creativity and innovation, which today are about forty. Future Concept Lab, which has an intense counseling activity for Italian and foreign companies, has given rise to numerous projects and continues to follow a number of initiatives, through research, publications and seminars.
Enrico Finzi, sociologist and journalist
Enrico Finzi, sociologist and journalist

Washing machine? Most popular than the antibiotic
Enrico Finzi, sociologist, journalist and president of Astra Ricerche told about the most interesting aspects that the spread of appliances generated in the life of the Italian and world population. “To give an idea of the extent of the phenomenon – Finzi says – consider that at the end of the Eighties, Federchimica Association commissioned us a survey in which we asked a representative sample of men and women, which was the product that had changed the lives of most people the last century. The Association hypothesized three possible answers: antibiotics, who had saved the lives of thousands of people; plastic, which had revolutionized the consumption during that period; and the computer, which was then a nascent phenomenon. None of this: people answered the washing machine”. This survey is just an example, which demonstrates how people have immediately realized the revolutionary nature of the appliances, which have changed in a radical way the household life. The washing machine is the most important appliances of ever, because it has taken away the great effort of hand washing, which often took place outside the home, in public washrooms at the mercy of the weather. The advent of a machine which performed by itself in this heavy task transformed women’s lives significantly, in terms of alleviation of fatigue, gain leisure, but also improvement in physical health. “The second most important appliance – Finzi goes on telling – is the refrigerator, which allowed to store food without the limits of the ice”. Even the dishwasher, which never got the success of the washing machine, helped to lighten the household chores and to improve the hygiene of dishes, pots and pans. The increase in leisure time and the quality of the performance of the appliances were immediately perceived by people to the point that at the end of the Eighties, they were still very present in the population minds. And this was only the first revolution. But a second one was ready to arrive. It was which of television and of communication media. At the beginning the penetration of television sets was very slow and this device was first used mainly in public places, such as cafe, clubs or cinemas. So, we can say that the first impact of television on society began outside the home. The effects of television were of various kinds: it often led to the first real cultural and linguistic unification of countries. The telecast contributed to literacy, as evidenced by the famous Italian program “It’s never too late,” where they were held real lessons of Italian language. The television, you might say, was the beginning of a huge mass school. In a second time, the influence of TV advertising on consumption began to be remarkable. “I had to conduct a survey – Finzi explains – which revealed that the generations of the Fifties and Sixties learned to brush their teeth, thanks to the advertising of the toothpaste, which shows the first educational role of the TV at the sanitation level too. Of course, this process had already been started by the radio in the Twenties and Thirties, but the power of the images added to the sound has multiplied these effects in an extraordinary way”. According to recent studies, however, in recent decades, television has had a negative impact on the evolution of the country, from many points of view. Then appliances became a status symbol. ”When they became a mass phenomenon – Finzi tells – the privileged groups, richer, more educated and more exposed to international phenomena, do not want a product such as that of others, but one that differentiates them. At that point status symbols arise, which are based on various characteristics”. The criteria of differentiation were different in the appliances. In the Seventies there was, for example, the design boom, which led to the most exclusive aesthetic equipment to be exhibited in famous museums. Then came the technological evolution, which resulted in the birth of the new status symbol, thanks to highly sophisticated equipment. In recent years, the trend is instead becoming ecologist who directs the choice of consumption towards products with lower environmental impact. Currently both of these aspects are the basis of the new trends. Appliances are getting more and more efficient and made with a sophisticated design, which integrates perfectly with classic or modern furniture.

Enrico Finzi: a career discovering the society
Enrico Finzi is currently president of Astra Ricerche, a company that carries out social surveys, marketing and consulting. Sociologist and famous journalist, he was until 2008 the national president of the Associazione Italiana Pubblicitari. He has significant experience in various fields, including university teaching and direction of research institutes (Agnelli Foundation, Society of Political Studies, InterMatrix). He also held the position of Group Marketing Director for Rizzoli-Corriere della Sera Group and is a journalist for Il Sole24Ore and L'Espresso. He is also the author of essays and studies in sociology, marketing, and contemporary history.

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