Getting and Spending: American and European Consumer Society in the Twentieth Century

Overview

This collection brings together essays that suggest that the developing history of consumption is not so much a separate field as a prism through which many aspects of social and political life may be viewed. The essays, by many of the historians who have defined contemporary discussion of consumer history, along with younger scholars, represent a variety of approaches to consumption in Europe and America. Yet their commonalities suggest recent directions in the scholarship, raising such themes as consumption and...
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Overview

This collection brings together essays that suggest that the developing history of consumption is not so much a separate field as a prism through which many aspects of social and political life may be viewed. The essays, by many of the historians who have defined contemporary discussion of consumer history, along with younger scholars, represent a variety of approaches to consumption in Europe and America. Yet their commonalities suggest recent directions in the scholarship, raising such themes as consumption and democracy; the development of a global economy; the role of the state; the centrality of consumption to Cold War politics; the importance of the Second World War as a historical divide; the language of consumption; the contexts of locality, race, ethnicity, gender, and class; and the environmental consequences of twentieth-century consumer society. Implicitly, and sometimes explicitly, they explore the role of the historian as social, political, and moral critic.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Getting and Spending provides an excellent overview of the current state of play regarding political and cultural approaches to the 20th-century consumer." Choice

"This large volume of essays edited by Susan Strasser, Charles McGovern, and Matthias Judt is a sampler from the latest research of some of the most prominent and imaginative historians of twentieth-century European/American consumer culture. It is an unusually fine collection, originating in a 1995 conference sponsored by the German Historical Institute. Although hardly encyclopedic, the collection offers a balanced and comprehensive view of the entire century." American Historical Review

"...the essays illuminate important themes and issues, opening up a variety of opportunities for comparative study..." Sue Wright, Business History

"Getting and Spending is a rich and rewarding collection of twenty-one essays...Throughout the volume, international perspectives illuminate how differing national cultures, local customs, and contexts of class, gender, ethnicity, and race have shaped the contours of consumer societies. Getting and Spending breaks new ground with such international comparisons and will hopefully inspire additional comparative work." Lisa Jacobson, Technology & Culture

"In October 1995, scholars gathered at the German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C., to contemplate the similarities and differences among twentieth-century consumer societies. The end product of that meeting is Getting and Spending, a cutting-edge anthology containing twent-one essays on consumerism by some of the field's pioneering researchers, including university and museum scholars...This milestone volume on the political economy of modern consumer societies will leaves a deep mark, influencing debates on the subject far into the future...A masterful and groundbreaking work, Getting and Spending will keep historians of consumer society engaged for years to come." Enterprise & Society

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Product Details

Table of Contents

Preface
Contributors
Introduction 1
1 The Consumers' White Label Campaign of the National Consumers' League, 1898-1918 17
2 Consumption and Citizenship in the United States, 1900-1940 37
3 Changing Consumption Regimes in Europe, 1930-1970: Comparative Perspectives on the Distribution Problem 59
4 Customer Research as Public Relations: General Motors in the 1930s 85
5 The New Deal State and the Making of Citizen Consumers 111
6 Consumer Spending as State Project: Yesterday's Solutions and Today's Problems 127
7 The Emigre as Celebrant of American Consumer Culture: George Katona and Ernest Dichter 149
8 Dissolution of the "Dictatorship over Needs"? Consumer Behavior and Economic Reform in East Germany in the 1960s 167
9 World War I and the Creation of Desire for Automobiles in Germany 195
10 Gender, Generation, and Consumption in the United States: Working-Class Families in the Interwar Period 223
11 Comparing Apples and Oranges: Housewives and the Politics of Consumption in Interwar Germany 241
12 "The Convenience Is Out of This World": The Garbage Disposer and American Consumer Culture 263
13 Consumer Culture in the GDR, or How the Struggle for Antimodernity Was Lost on the Battleground of Consumer Culture 281
14 Changes in Consumption as Social Practice in West Germany During the 1950s 301
15 Reshaping Shopping Environments: The Competition Between the City of Boston and Its Suburbs 317
16 Toys, Socialization, and the Commodification of Play 339
17 The "Syndrome of the 1950s" in Switzerland: Cheap Energy, Mass Consumption, and the Environment 359
18 Reflecting on Ethnic Imagery in the Landscape of Commerce, 1945-1975 379
19 Modern Subjectivity and Consumer Culture 413
20 Consumption and Consumer Society: A Contribution to the History of Ideas 431
21 Reconsidering Abundance: A Plea for Ambiguity 449
Index 467
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