The Industrious Revolution: Consumer Behavior and the Household Economy, 1650 to the Present / Edition 1

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In the long eithteenth century, new consumer aspirations combined with a new industrious behavior to alter fundamentally the material cultures of northwestern Europe and North America. This "industrious revolution" is the context in which the economic acceleration associated with the Industrial Revolution took shape. This study explores the intellectual understanding of the new importance of consumer goods as well as the actual consumer behavior of households of all income levels.

Jan de Vries examines how the activation and evolution of consumer demand shaped the course of economic development, situating consumer behavior in the context of the household economy. He considers the changing consumption goals of households from the seventeenth century to the present and analyzes how household decisions have mediated between macro-level economic growth and actual human betterment. Ultimately, de Vries's research reveals key strengths and weaknesses of existing consumer theory, suggesting revisions that add historical realism to economic abstractions.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Combining an encylcopaedic knowledge of the history of consumption of early-modern north-western Europe with a vigorous determination to use recent economic theory to unlock its meaning, Jan de Vries' The Industrious Revolution is by turns fascinating, provocative and illuminating. No student of consumption, whether historian or economist, can afford to ignore it." -John Brewer, California Institute of Technology

“This is an important book. The appearance of 'new goods' in the eighteenth century elicited a growing work effort and provided a spur to economic growth even more important than the industrial revolution itself. A similar profusion in the last few decades (and the rise of education) has driven women out of the home again and back into work. De Vries is a masterly and imaginative historian, who demonstrates enduring regularities behind the craving for goods over the last three centuries.” -Avner Offer, All Souls College, University of Oxford

“One of the most accomplished and influential economic historians of our age has produced a magisterial work that will force the entire profession to rethink the history of the household, work, leisure, and consumption in Europe over three centuries. Based on a wide and deep knowledge of his subject, De Vries has taken a novel and original approach to the joint determination of income and consumption by households. The “Industrious Revolution” will be discussed and taught for many years.” -Joel Mokyr, Northwestern University

"… this book will interest all concerned with human behaviour in its many forms … it contains interesting insights into the ways behaviour has changed over the past couple of centuries …" The Financial Times

"Buy, buy buy." -Times Literary Supplement

"A remarkable achievement, this seminal study will stimulate debate and research for years. Indispensable for academics and advanced undergraduates, it will intrigue some general readers. Essential" -Choice

" is staggerinly erudite, insightful, stimulating, and on all the main points, convincing." -Hans-Joachim Voth, EH.NET

"...breathtakingly erudite, accessibly written, and admirably concise." -John Styles, Journal of Economic History

"I would urge those who instinctively shy from books that trade in such terms as 'backward bending supply curves' to pick up this volume. If you read only one work of economic history this year, let this be it." -Michael Kwass, American Historical Review

"De Vries's work is a masterful synthesis that defies summary in a short review. He systematically summarizes, challenges, dissects, and reconstitutes countless interpretations that have formed the basis of the early modern economic historiography. For that reason alone, this book should be read by undergraduates and graduate students alike."
Canadian Journal of History, Stephen Moore

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521719254
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 4/30/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 340
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Jan de Vries has been a Professor of History and Economics at the University of California at Berkeley since 1973 where he holds the Sidney Hellman Ehrman endowed chair in European history. De Vries has also served as Chair of the History Department, Dean of Social Sciences, and Vice Provost for Academic Affairs. He has written 5 books, 65 published articles and book chapters, and 45 book reviews. In addition, he is co-editor of 3 books. He is the recipient of the Woodrow Wilson and Guggenheim fellowships, among others; has held grants from NSF and NIH; and has held visiting fellowships to the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study, the Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities, and All Souls College, Oxford. He has been elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the British Academy,the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. He is the 2000 recipient of the A. H. Heineken Prize in History.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures     viii
Preface and Acknowledgments     ix
The Transformation of Consumer Desire in the Long Eighteenth Century     1
The Origins of the Industrious Revolution     40
The Industrious Revolution: The Supply of Labor     73
The Industrious Revolution: Consumer Demand     122
The Breadwinner-Homemaker Household     186
A Second Industrious Revolution?     238
Bibliography     275
Index     315
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