Women and Mass Consumer Society in Postwar France

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Women and Mass Consumer Society in Postwar France examines the emergence of a citizen consumer role for women during postwar modernization and reconstruction in France, integrating the history of economic modernization with that of women and the family. This role both celebrated the power of the woman consumer and created a gendered form of citizenship that did not disrupt the sexual hierarchy of home, polity, and marketplace. Redefining needs and renegotiating concepts of taste, value, and thrift, women and their families drove mass consumer society through their demands and purchases at the same time that their very need to consume came to define them.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“This impressive study fills an important gap in the history of post–World War II economic and social recovery by expertly analyzing the contribution of women’s consumption and consumer advocacy to the ‘trentes glorieuses’ of French economic growth between 1945 and 1975. In this fascinating story, Pulju connects data on the expansion of credit and the production and purchase of household appliances to gender and class differences. She has brilliantly blended the analysis of quantitative data with the views of economists and planners, sociologists’ surveys, popular novels, and articles from women’s magazines, among other sources.” – Laura Levine Frader, Northeastern University

“Like all the best works of cultural history, Women and Mass Consumer Society in Postwar France has implications for economic, political, and social history. It will be of interest to anyone who is interested in postwar France and, more generally, for anyone interested in consumerism and the European economy in the aftermath of the Second World War.” – Richard Vinen, King’s College London

“This book transforms our understanding of France’s economic recovery following World War II. Pulju persuasively argues that women and domestic consumption were key to the development of mass consumer society – a totally different orientation for economic growth that both the government of the Fourth Republic and women themselves espoused.” -Whitney Walton, Purdue University

"...with its clear and engaging prose, Women and Mass Consumer Society in Postwar France eloquently establishes and demonstrates the productive potential of Pulju’s concept of the ‘citizen consumer’." -Ruth CRUICKSHANK

"builds upon and nuances what we have learned from this literature by exploring France between 1944 and 1968, when a variety of circumstances conspired to place the female consumer citizen at the center of a state-sponsored economic modernization program." -Sheryl Kroen, The Journal of Modern History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781107001350
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 2/14/2011
  • Pages: 274
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Rebecca J. Pulju is an assistant professor of history at Kent State University in Ohio. Her work has been published in the Journal of Women's History and the Proceedings of the Western Society for French History. Professor Pulju's research has been supported by funding from the University of Iowa and Kent State University, as well as a travel grant from the Society for French Historical Studies and the Western Society for French History.

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Table of Contents

Introduction; 1. Consumers for the nation: women, politics, and citizenship; 2. The productivity drive in the home and gaining comfort on credit; 3. For better and for worse: marriage and family in the consumer society; 4. 'Can a man with a refrigerator make a revolution?': redefining class in the postwar years; 5. The salon des arts ménagers: learning to consume in postwar France; Epilogue.

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