Cultures of Selling: Perspectives on Consumption and Society since 1700

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This volume explores the cultural and social values attached to retail selling in various historical contexts and locations. The articles shed light on different aspects of an activity that is both 'mundane' and almost universal: that of selling commodities for a profit. This is a field of study that is of growing interest to scholars from a variety of disciplines, but on which relatively little has yet been published.

The volume is opened by an article co-authored by the editors, which introduces the reader to the existing literature relevant to the subject, and places the following chapters in context. It also explores the widespread perceptions of moral ambiguity surrounding the practice of selling consumer goods—ranging from concerns about the adulteration of goods, to fears about sharp practice on the part of retailers—and places such concerns in the context of wider societal values and ideas.

The ambivalence towards retail selling and sellers is also a central focus of the collection. These are grouped in three sections: Section One ('Making Good Retailers') focuses on the attempts by retailers to develop selling techniques and successful practices of salesmanship, and at the same time establish widely-shared understandings of 'good' retailing. Section Two ('Credit and Wheeler-Dealing') delves into the more dubious practices of retail selling, including practices on the margin of legality. The issue of credit is of central importance to this section, and the essays share a concern with changing attitudes towards debt. Section Three ('Itineraries of Shopping') focuses on sales techniques and practices, placing them in their distinctive spatialcontext. Indeed, rather than simply explore the marketing or advertising practices of particular shops in isolation, the essays in this section focus on how sales techniques related to the wider context of a whole shopping 'experience' or shopping environment.

Taken as a whole, this volume will provide a first port of call for students, researchers and others interested in exploring consumer cultures, and the cultural norms and practices involved in the sale of consumer goods in various historical periods and geographical contexts.

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Table of Contents

Introduction, John Benson and Laura Ugolini. Section 1 Itineraries and Spaces of Selling: West End shopping with Vogue: 1930s geographies of metropolitan consumption, Bronwen Edwards
Beyond the boundary of the shop: retail advertising spaces in 18th-century provincial England, Victoria Morgan
Creating new spaces of food consumption: the rise of mass catering and the activities of the Aerated Bread Company, Gareth Shaw, Louise Curth and Andrew Alexander. Section 2 Wheeling and Dealing: 'Speciousness is the bucketeer's watchword and outrageous effrontery his capital': financial bucket shops in the City of London, c. 1880-1939, Dilwyn Porter
Buy now - pay later. Credit: the mainstay of the retail furniture business? Clive Edwards
'Funny money', hidden charges and repossession: working-class experiences of consumption and credit in the inter-war years, Avram Taylor. Section 3 Good Salesmanship: 'The customer is always right': change and continuity in British and American department store salesmanship, 1945-60, Joy Cushman
'The diligent hand maketh rich': commercial advice for retailers in late 17th and early 18th century England, Elizabeth Anne Rothenberg
Interactions of discontent: customers, sales assistants and the state in the German Democratic Republic, 1970-89, Christina Schr"der
The view from the shop: window display, the shopper and the formulation of theory, Susan Lomax. Index
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