Going Shopping: Consumer Choices and Community Consequences

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Overview


We are how we shop. From Mesopotamian merchants and the fairs of medieval Europe to marble palace department stores and now Wal-Mart and the Internet, social, cultural, economic, and moral forces have shaped our shopping. In this engaging and generously illustrated book, Ann Satterthwaite traces the history of shopping and considers its meaning and significance.

According to Satterthwaite, shopping has become part of the American dream. To choose and to buy constitute not only a basic economic liberty but also the capacity to improve and transform ourselves. How we shop also reflects our culture, as in the twentieth century disposable incomes have grown, women’s roles have changed, and new styles of shopping and advertising have made their impacts on an old adventure. But there is a downside. Shopping used to be a friendly business: shoppers and clerks knew each other, the country crossroads stores and downtown markets were social as much as economic hubs. Shopping was meshed with civic life—post offices, town halls, courts, and churches. In place of this almost vanished scene have come superstores and the franchises of international companies staffed by pressured clerks in featureless commercial wastelands. Shopping and community have been savagely divorced.

However, shopping as a social plus need not be lost, says Satterthwaite. Examining trends in the United States and abroad where new approaches to an old activity are strengthening its social and civic role, she states that shopping is more than ever a public concern with profound public impacts.

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Editorial Reviews

Sharon Zukin
This enjoyable book engages in a significant debate about civility, community, and public space.
Library Journal
In this intriguing and well-researched book, Satterthwaite, a city planner in Washington, DC, provides an in-depth examination of the history and societal impacts of shopping. She explores shopping and retailing from farmers bartering their extra produce in ancient Mesopotamia to recent phenomena like superstores and e-commerce. Shopping, Satterthwaite argues, reflects the wider culture, and as incomes and free time have increased, women's roles have changed, and technology has evolved, shopping has fundamentally shifted as well. For centuries, shopping has been a social, community-based activity where shoppers interacted with friends and neighbors at a locally owned store on Main Street. The advent of nation-wide franchise discount stores, superstores, and e-commerce has stripped the act of shopping of any community. She ends with an examination of recent efforts in the United States and abroad to restore community interaction to the shopping process. Excellently written and well argued, Satterthwaite's book will make a fine addition to the collection of any academic or large public library. Mark Bay, Cumberland Coll. Lib., Williamsburg, KY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300084214
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/2001
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.44 (h) x 1.16 (d)

Meet the Author

Ann Satterthwaite is a city planner in Washington, D.C.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Ch. 1 Shopping Through the Ages: How Rarities Become Commonplace 8
Ch. 2 Shopping: A Community Activity 64
Ch. 3 Shoppers: Matching Dreams with Realities 118
Ch. 4 What's in Store? Shopping in the Future 171
Ch. 5 Planning for Shopping: An Insurance Policy for Community Well-Being 241
Ch. 6 Shopping: A Public Concern 306
Notes 347
Bibliography 361
Acknowledgments 375
Index 377
Illustration Credits 387
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