Consumption has often been called America's true national pastime. From the earliest European explorers trading with Native Americans to today's Internet shoppers, consumerism has driven American society. Until recent years, however, consumerism has received little serious attention from historians and other scholars.
This welcome volume offers the most comprehensive and incisive exploration of American consumer history to date. The first book on this topic to span the four centuries from the colonial era to the present, and the first to propose theoretical frameworks, the volume brings consumer society to the center of American history. Indeed, its authors demonstrate the many ways their research enhances knowledge of a broad range of historical topics, such as politics, labor ideology, immigrant life, and race, gender, and class relations. By including types of consumer studies which are seldom linked, this volume offers both a basis for historical synthesis and a springboard for further inquiry.
With contributions by Raymond Williams, Jean Baudrillard, Juliet B. Schor, Kim Moody, Jean-Christophe Agnew, and many others, plus the most comprehensive bibliographical essay ever produced on the historiography of American consumption, Consumer Society in American History will take its place as the definitive sourcebook for this emerging field.
Lawrence B. Glickman is Professor of History at Cornell University. He is the author of A Living Wage: American Workers and the Making of Consumer Society and the editor of Consumer Society in American History: A Reader, both published by Cornell. His other books are Buying Power: A History of Consumer Activism in America and The Cultural Turn in U.S. History: Past, Present and Future.
Introduction: Born to Shop? Consumer History and American History - LAWRENCE B. GLICKMAN Part I. Frameworks and Definitions 1. Consumer - RAYMOND WILLIAMS 2. Consuming Goods and the Good of Consuming - COLIN CAMPBELL 3. Consumer Society - JEAN BAUDRILLARD 4. What Is an Economy For? - JAMES FALLOWS 5. An Environmentalist's Perspective on Consumer Society - ALAN DURNING Part II. Roots of American Consumer Society 6. The First Consumer Revolution - JAMES AXTELL 7. Narrative of Commercial Life: Consumption, Ideology, and Community on the Eve of the American Revolution - T. H. BREEN 8. Consumption in Early Modern Social Thought - JOYCE APPLEBY Part III. Class, Gender, and Modernity, 1880-1940 9. Encountering Mass Culture at the Grassroots: The Experience of Chicago Workers in the 1920s - LIZABETH COHEN 10. Familiar Sounds of Change: Music and the Growth of Mass Culture - GEORGE SANCHEZ 11. From Scarcity to Abundance: The Immigrant as Consumer - ANDREW HEINZE 12. Consuming Brotherhood: Men's Culture, Style and Recreation as Consumer Culture, 1880-1930 - MARK A. SWIENCICKI 13. "Don't Buy Where You Can't Work" - CHERYL GREENBERG Part IV. Consumerism Since World War II 14. The 'Work' Ethic and 'Leisure' Activity: The Hot Rod in Post-War America - H. F. MOORHOUSE 15. The Commodity Gap: Consumerism and the Modern Home - ELAINE TYLER MAY 16. The Revolution Will be Marketed: American Corporations and Black Consumers During the 1960s - ROBERT E. WEEMS, JR. 17. All Work and No Play. It Doesn't Pay - JULIET B. SCHOR 18. When High Wage Jobs Are Gone, Who Will Buy What We Make? - KIM MOODY 19. The Green Consumer - JOHN ELKINGTON, JULIA HAILES, AND JOEL MAKOWER Part V. Critiques and Celebrations 20. Delectable Materialism: Second Thoughts on Consumer Culture - MICHAEL SCHUDSON 21. The Tyranny of Choice - STEVEN WALDMAN 22. The Pleasures of Eating - WENDELL BERRY Coming Up for Air: Consumer Culture in Historical Perspective - JEAN-CHRISTOPHE AGNEW Bibliographic Essay - LAWRENCE B. GLICKMAN Contributors Index