It is commonly accepted that the consumer is now centre stage in modern Britain, rather than the worker or producer. Consumer choice is widely regarded as the major source of self-definition and identity rather than productive activity. Politicians vie with each other to fashion their appeal to 'citizen-consumers'.
When and how did these profound changes occur? Which historical alternatives were pushed to the margins in the process? In what ways did the everyday consumer practices and forms of consumer organising adopted by both middle and working-class men and women shape the outcomes? This study of the making of consumer culture in Britain since 1800 explores these questions, introduces students to major debates and cuts a distinctive path through this vibrant field. It suggests that the consumer culture that emerged during this period was shaped as much by political relationships as it was by economic and social factors.
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About the Author
Peter Gurbaney is Professor of British Social History at the University of Essex, UK.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations
1. Historicising Consumer Culture
Part One: A New World of Goods: 1800-1870
2. Producing Consumers: Consumption Practices
3. Alternative Paths: The Politics of Consumption
Part Two: Making a Mass Market: 1870-1920
4. Image Worlds: The Rise of Modern Advertising
5. Shopping as Pleasure: Department Stores
6. Co-op Commonwealth: Consumer Organising
Part Three: A Consumers' Democracy: 1920-2000
7. Ideal Home: The Growth of the New Consumerism
8. Mass Consumerism: From Austerity to Affluence
9. Consumer Culture: The Hegemony of Choice
Epilogue: Satisfaction Guaranteed?