Consumer Society in American History: A Reader

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Overview

Consumption has often been called America's true national pastime. From the earliest European explorers trading with Native Americans to today's Internet shoppers, consumerism has driven American society. Until recent years, however, consumerism has received little serious attention from historians and other scholars.

This welcome volume offers the most comprehensive and incisive exploration of American consumer history to date. The first book on this topic to span the four centuries from the colonial era to the present, and the first to propose theoretical frameworks, the volume brings consumer society to the center of American history. Indeed, its authors demonstrate the many ways their research enhances knowledge of a broad range of historical topics, such as politics, labor ideology, immigrant life, and race, gender, and class relations. By including types of consumer studies which are seldom linked, this volume offers both a basis for historical synthesis and a springboard for further inquiry.

With contributions by Raymond Williams, Jean Baudrillard, Juliet B. Schor, Kim Moody, Jean-Christophe Agnew, and many others, plus the most comprehensive bibliographical essay ever produced on the historiography of American consumption, Consumer Society in American History will take its place as the definitive sourcebook for this emerging field.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The anthology presents a highly engaging sample of divergent viewpoints. . . . The strengths of the anthology are in the analytical breadth of its essays. "—History: Reviews of New Books

"The book mixes the agenda-setting works of established historians and cultural critics . . . with case studies provided by younger scholars. . . and historians not usually associated with works on consumption. . . as well as statements made on the nature of consumerism by journalists and activists. . . . Glickman has provided a group of essays potentially more representative of future explorations into consumer society. . . . His book will be an extremely useful introduction to the current research on consumer history."—Business History

"This thoughtful and solidly documented collection looks at consumption with an eye both to the past and to the world. . . Comprising 24 excellently chosen selections . . . the book enables the reader to see both how consumption changed over time, and how the analysis of consumption has changed over time."—Labor History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801484865
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/1999
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 604,113
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: Born to Shop? Consumer History and American History - LAWRENCE B. GLICKMAN

Part I. Frameworks and Definitions
1. Consumer - RAYMOND WILLIAMS
2. Consuming Goods and the Good of Consuming - COLIN CAMPBELL
3. Consumer Society - JEAN BAUDRILLARD
4. What Is an Economy For? - JAMES FALLOWS
5. An Environmentalist's Perspective on Consumer Society - ALAN DURNING

Part II. Roots of American Consumer Society
6. The First Consumer Revolution - JAMES AXTELL
7. Narrative of Commercial Life: Consumption, Ideology, and Community on the Eve of the American Revolution - T. H. BREEN
8. Consumption in Early Modern Social Thought - JOYCE APPLEBY

Part III. Class, Gender, and Modernity, 1880-1940
9. Encountering Mass Culture at the Grassroots: The Experience of Chicago Workers in the 1920s - LIZABETH COHEN
10. Familiar Sounds of Change: Music and the Growth of Mass Culture - GEORGE SANCHEZ
11. From Scarcity to Abundance: The Immigrant as Consumer - ANDREW HEINZE
12. Consuming Brotherhood: Men's Culture, Style and Recreation as Consumer Culture, 1880-1930 - MARK A. SWIENCICKI
13. "Don't Buy Where You Can't Work" - CHERYL GREENBERG

Part IV. Consumerism Since World War II
14. The 'Work' Ethic and 'Leisure' Activity: The Hot Rod in Post-War America - H. F. MOORHOUSE
15. The Commodity Gap: Consumerism and the Modern Home - ELAINE TYLER MAY
16. The Revolution Will be Marketed: American Corporations and Black Consumers During the 1960s - ROBERT E. WEEMS, JR.
17. All Work and No Play. It Doesn't Pay - JULIET B. SCHOR
18. When High Wage Jobs Are Gone, Who Will Buy What We Make? - KIM MOODY
19. The Green Consumer - JOHN ELKINGTON, JULIA HAILES, AND JOEL MAKOWER

Part V. Critiques and Celebrations
20. Delectable Materialism: Second Thoughts on Consumer Culture - MICHAEL SCHUDSON
21. The Tyranny of Choice - STEVEN WALDMAN
22. The Pleasures of Eating - WENDELL BERRY
Coming Up for Air: Consumer Culture in Historical Perspective - JEAN-CHRISTOPHE AGNEW

Bibliographic Essay - LAWRENCE B. GLICKMAN
Contributors
Index

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