Individuals and families move freely between the private and the public spheres of life. What happens in the public sphere almost certainly affects conditions in the private sphere, and what one does in private shapes what goes on beyond it. Boundaries between the private and the public spheres of daily life are not readily visible or clearly fixed. Nevertheless, to understand changes in daily life it is useful to have a sense of the general character of both.
In their largely private lives, people establish and maintain family relationships, make a living, enjoy personal security, strive for personal growth and advancement through education, have religious beliefs and practices, appreciate the arts, participate in recreational and cultural activities, maintain their health, buy goods and services, eat and drink at home and in restaurants and bars--among other things. Here people act with considerable autonomy and independence, although they are often limited by laws and customs.
For many people in the 1960s, their lives were private almost to the point of isolation. Even though they were surrounded by others, the others were strangers. Geographical mobility meant that many individuals lived apart from their extended families. Suburban developments did little to foster neighborliness or community spirit. As air conditioning became more common, people stayed indoors in the summertime, reducing over-the-fence socializing. Driving to work, typically alone, rather than taking public transportation deprived people of opportuni-