The 1890s saw a revolution in advertising. Cheap paper, faster printing, rural mail delivery, railroad shipping, and chromolithography combined to pave the way for the first modern, mass-produced catalogs. The most prominent of these, reaching American households by the thousands, were seed and nursery catalogs with beautiful pictures of middle-class homes surrounded by sprawling lawns, exotic plants, and the latest garden accessories—in other words, the quintessential English-style garden.
America’s Romance with the English Garden is the story of tastemakers and homemakers, of savvy businessmen and a growing American middle class eager to buy their products. It’s also the story of the beginnings of the modern garden industry, which seduced the masses with its images and fixed the English garden in the mind of the American consumer. Seed and nursery catalogs delivered aspirational images to front doorsteps from California to Maine, and the English garden became the look of America.
Yugoslavia was unique among the communist countries of the Cold War era in its openness to mixing cultural elements from both socialism and capitalism. Unlike their counterparts in the nations of the Soviet Bloc, ordinary Yugoslavs enjoyed access to a wide range of consumer goods and services, from clothes and appliances to travel agencies and discotheques. From the mid-1950s onward the political climate in Yugoslavia permitted, and later at times encouraged, a consumerist lifestyle of shopping, spending, acquiring, and enjoying that engaged the public on a day-to-day basis through modern advertising and sales techniques. In Bought and Sold, Patrick Hyder Patterson reveals the extent to which socialist Yugoslavia embraced a consumer culture usually associated with capitalism and explores the role of consumerism in the federation's collapse into civil war in 1991.
Based on extraordinary research and featuring remarkable examples of Yugoslav print advertising and mass culture, this book reconstructs in often dramatic detail the rise of a culture in which shoppers' desires trumped genuine human needs. Yugoslavia, Patterson argues, became a land where the symbolic, cultural value of consumer goods was a primary factor in individual and group identity. He shows how a new, aggressive business establishment promoted consumerist tendencies that ordinary citizens eagerly adopted, while the Communist leadership alternately encouraged and constrained the consumer orientation.
Abundance translated into civic contentment and seemed to prove that the regime could provide goods and services equal to those of the capitalist West, but many Yugoslavs, both inside and outside the circles of official power, worried about the contradiction between the population's embrace of consumption and the dictates of Marxist ideology. The result was a heated public debate over creeping consumerist values, with the new way of life finding fierce critics and, surprisingly for a communist country, many passionate and vocal defenders. Patterson argues that consumerism was one of the critical factors that held the multiethnic society together during the years of the Yugoslav "Good Life" of the 1960s and 1970s. With the economic downturn of the 1980s, however, the reliance on expanding consumerism ultimately led to bitter disillusionment, stripping the unique Yugoslav model of its legitimacy and priming the populace for mutual resentment, ethnic conflict, and war.
A definitive history of consumer activism, Buying Power traces the lineage of this political tradition back to our nation’s founding, revealing that Americans used purchasing power to support causes and punish enemies long before the word boycott even entered our lexicon. Taking the Boston Tea Party as his starting point, Lawrence Glickman argues that the rejection of British imports by revolutionary patriots inaugurated a continuous series of consumer boycotts, campaigns for safe and ethical consumption, and efforts to make goods more broadly accessible. He explores abolitionist-led efforts to eschew slave-made goods, African American consumer campaigns against Jim Crow, a 1930s refusal of silk from fascist Japan, and emerging contemporary movements like slow food. Uncovering previously unknown episodes and analyzing famous events from a fresh perspective, Glickman illuminates moments when consumer activism intersected with political and civil rights movements. He also sheds new light on activists’ relationship with the consumer movement, which gave rise to lobbies like the National Consumers League and Consumers Union as well as ill-fated legislation to create a federal Consumer Protection Agency.
From the 1860s through the early twentieth century, Great Britain saw the rise of the department store and the institutionalization of a gendered sphere of consumption. Come Buy, Come Buy considers representations of the female shopper in British women’s writing and demonstrates how women’s shopping practices are materialized as forms of narrative, poetic, and cultural inscription, showing how women writers emphasize consumerism as productive of pleasure rather than the condition of seduction or loss. Krista Lysack examines works by Christina Rossetti, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, George Eliot, and Michael Field, as well as the suffragist newspaper Votes for Women, in order to challenge the dominant construction of Victorian femininity as characterized by self-renunciation and the regulation of appetite.
Come Buy, Come Buy considers not only literary works, but also a variety of archival sources (shopping guides, women’s fashion magazines, household management guides, newspapers, and advertisements) and cultural practices (department store shopping, shoplifting and kleptomania, domestic economy, and suffragette shopkeeping). This wealth of sources reveals unexpected relationships between consumption, identity, and citizenship, as Lysack traces a genealogy of the woman shopper from dissident domestic spender to aesthetic salonière, from curious shop-gazer to political radical.
In this revealing social history, Daniel Thomas Cook explores the roots of children’s consumer culture—and the commodification of childhood itself—by looking at the rise, growth, and segmentation of the children’s clothing industry. Cook describes how in the early twentieth century merchants, manufacturers, and advertisers of children’s clothing began to aim commercial messages at the child rather than the mother. Cook situates this fundamental shift in perspective within the broader transformation of the child into a legitimate, individualized, self-contained consumer.
The Commodification of Childhood begins with the publication of the children’s wear industry’s first trade journal, The Infants’ Department, in 1917 and extends into the early 1960s, by which time the changes Cook chronicles were largely complete. Analyzing trade journals and other documentary sources, Cook shows how the industry created a market by developing and promulgating new understandings of the “nature,” needs, and motivations of the child consumer. He discusses various ways that discursive constructions of the consuming child were made material: in the creation of separate children’s clothing departments, in their segmentation and layout by age and gender gradations (such as infant, toddler, boys, girls, tweens, and teens), in merchants’ treatment of children as individuals on the retail floor, and in displays designed to appeal directly to children. Ultimately, The Commodification of Childhood provides a compelling argument that any consideration of “the child” must necessarily take into account how childhood came to be understood through, and structured by, a market idiom.
While the youth counterculture remains the most evocative and best-remembered symbol of the cultural ferment of the 1960s, the revolution that shook American business during those boom years has gone largely unremarked. In this fascinating and revealing study, Thomas Frank shows how the youthful revolutionaries were joined—and even anticipated —by such unlikely allies as the advertising industry and the men's clothing business.
"[Thomas Frank is] perhaps the most provocative young cultural critic of the moment."—Gerald Marzorati, New York Times Book Review
"An indispensable survival guide for any modern consumer."—Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Frank makes an ironclad case not only that the advertising industry cunningly turned the countercultural rhetoric of revolution into a rallying cry to buy more stuff, but that the process itself actually predated any actual counterculture to exploit."—Geoff Pevere, Toronto Globe and Mail
"The Conquest of Cool helps us understand why, throughout the last third of the twentieth century, Americans have increasingly confused gentility with conformity, irony with protest, and an extended middle finger with a populist manifesto. . . . His voice is an exciting addition to the soporific public discourse of the late twentieth century."—T. J. Jackson Lears, In These Times
"An invaluable argument for anyone who has ever scoffed at hand-me-down counterculture from the '60s. A spirited and exhaustive analysis of the era's advertising."—Brad Wieners, Wired Magazine
"Tom Frank is . . . not only old-fashioned, he's anti-fashion, with a place in his heart for that ultimate social faux pas, leftist politics."—Roger Trilling, Details
The Consumer Society
Edited by Neva R. Goodwin, Frank Ackerman, and David Kiron Island Press, 1997
Library of Congress HF5415.33.U6C66 1997 |
Dewey Decimal 306.3/4
The developed countries, particularly the United States, consume a disproportionate share of the world's resources, yet high and rising levels of consumption do not necessarily lead to greater satisfaction, security, or well-being, even for affluent consumers.The Consumer Society provides brief summaries of the most important and influential writings on the environmental, moral, and social implications of a consumer society and consumer lifestyles. Each section consists of ten to twelve summaries of critical writings in a specific area, with an introductory essay that outlines the state of knowledge in that area and indicates where further research is needed. Sections cover: Scope and Definition Consumption in the Affluent Society Family, Gender, and Socialization The History of Consumerism Foundations of Economic Theories of Consumption Critiques and Alternatives in Economic Theory Perpetuating Consumer Culture: Media, Advertising, and Wants Creation Consumption and the Environment Globalization and Consumer Culture Visions of an Alternative This book is the second volume in the Frontier Issues in Economic Thought series, which provides surveys of the most significant writings in emergent areas of economics -- an invaluable aid in fast-growing fields where genuine new ground is being broken. The series brings together economists, sociologists, psychologists, and philosophers to develop analyses that challenge and enrich the dominant neoclassical paradigm.The Consumer Society is an essential guide to and summary of the literature of consumption and will be of interest to anyone concerned with the deeper economic, social, and ethical implications of consumerism.
Consider this paradox: Ecologists estimate that it would take three planets Earth to provide an American standard of living to the entire world. Yet it is that standard of living to which the whole world aspires.In Consuming Desires, award-winning writer and social commentator Roger Rosenblatt brings together a brilliant collection of thinkers and writers to shed light on the triumphs and tragedies of that disturbing paradox. The book represents a captivating salon, offering a rich and varied dialogue on the underlying roots of consumer culture and its pervasive impact on ourselves and the world around us. Each author offers a unique perspective, their layers of thoughts and insights building together to create a striking, multifaceted picture of our society and culture.Jane Smiley probes the roots of consumerism in the emancipation of women from household drudgery afforded by labor-saving devices and technological innovation; Alex Kotlowitz describes the mutual reinforcement of fashion trends as poor inner-city kids and rich suburban kids strive to imitate each other; Bill McKibben discusses the significance, and the irony, of defining yourself not by what you buy, but by what you don't buy.The essays range widely, but two ideas are central to nearly all of them: that consumption is driven by yearning and desire -- often unspoken, seemingly insatiable -- and that what prevents us from keeping our consumptive impulse in check is the western concept of self, the solitary and restless self, entitled to all it can pay for.As Rosenblatt explains in his insightful introduction: "Individualism and desire are what makes us great and what makes us small. Freedom is our dream and our enemy. The essays touch on these paradoxes, and while all are too nuanced and graceful to preach easy reform, they give an idea of what reform means, where it is possible, and, in some cases, where it may not be as desirable as it appears."
Department stores in Germany, like their predecessors in France, Britain, and the United States, generated great excitement when they appeared at the end of the nineteenth century. Their sumptuous displays, abundant products, architectural innovations, and prodigious scale inspired widespread fascination and even awe; at the same time, however, many Germans also greeted the rise of the department store with considerable unease. In The Consuming Temple, Paul Lerner explores the complex German reaction to department stores and the widespread belief that they posed hidden dangers both to the individuals, especially women, who frequented them and to the nation as a whole.
Drawing on fiction, political propaganda, commercial archives, visual culture, and economic writings, Lerner provides multiple perspectives on the department store, placing it in architectural, gender-historical, commercial, and psychiatric contexts. Noting that Jewish entrepreneurs founded most German department stores, he argues that Jews and “Jewishness” stood at the center of the consumer culture debate from the 1880s, when the stores first appeared, through the latter 1930s, when they were “Aryanized” by the Nazis. German responses to consumer culture and the Jewish question were deeply interwoven, and the “Jewish department store,” framed as an alternative and threatening secular temple, a shrine to commerce and greed, was held responsible for fundamental changes that transformed urban experience and challenged national traditions in Germany’s turbulent twentieth century.
From the novels of Anne Rice to The Lost Boys, from The Terminator to cyberpunk science fiction, vampires and cyborgs have become strikingly visible figures within American popular culture, especially youth culture. In Consuming Youth, Rob Latham explains why, showing how fiction, film, and other media deploy these ambiguous monsters to embody and work through the implications of a capitalist system in which youth both consume and are consumed.
Inspired by Marx's use of the cyborg vampire as a metaphor for the objectification of physical labor in the factory, Latham shows how contemporary images of vampires and cyborgs illuminate the contradictory processes of empowerment and exploitation that characterize the youth-consumer system. While the vampire is a voracious consumer driven by a hunger for perpetual youth, the cyborg has incorporated the machineries of consumption into its own flesh. Powerful fusions of technology and desire, these paired images symbolize the forms of labor and leisure that American society has staked out for contemporary youth.
A startling look at youth in our time, Consuming Youth will interest anyone concerned with film, television, and popular culture.
The English middle class in the late nineteenth century enjoyed an increase in the availability and variety of material goods. With that, the visual markers of class membership and manly behaviorunderwent a radical change. In The Cut of His Coat: Men, Dress, and Consumer Culture in Britain, 1860 –1914, Brent Shannon examines familiarnovels by authors such as George Eliot, Anthony Trollope, Thomas Hughes, and H. G. Wells, as well as previously unexamined etiquette manuals, periodadvertisements, and fashion monthlies, to trace how new ideologies emerged as mass-produced clothes, sartorial markers, and consumer culture began tochange.While Victorian literature traditionally portrayed women as having sole control of class representations through dress and manners, Shannon argues that middle-class men participated vigorously in fashion. Public displays of their newly acquired mannerisms, hairstyles, clothing, and consumer goods redefined masculinity and class status for the Victorian era and beyond.The Cut of His Coat probes the Victorian disavowal of men’s interest in fashion and shopping to recover men’s significant role in the representation of class through self-presentation and consumer practices.
The Dialectics of Shopping
Daniel Miller University of Chicago Press, 2001
Library of Congress TX335.M535 2001 |
Dewey Decimal 306.3/4
Shopping is generally considered to be a pleasurable activity. But in reality it can often be complicated and frustrating. Daniel Miller explores the many contradictions faced by shoppers on a typical street in London, and in the process offers a sophisticated examination of the way we shop, and what it reveals about our relationships to our families and communities, as well as to the environment and the economy as a whole.
Miller's companions are mostly women who confront these contradictions as they shop. They placate their children with items that combine nutrition with taste or usefulness with style. They decide between shopping at the local store or at the impersonal, but less expensive, mall. They tell of their sympathy for environmental concerns but somehow avoid much ethical shopping. They are faced with a selection of shops whose shifts and mergers often reveal extraordinary stories of their own. Filled with entertaining—and thoroughly familiar—stories of shoppers and shops, this book will interest scholars across a broad range of disciplines.
Doing Anthropology in Consumer Research is the essential guide to the theory and practice of conducting ethnographic research in consumer environments. Patricia Sunderland and Rita Denny argue that, while the recent explosion in the use of “ethnography” in the corporate world has provided unprecedented opportunities for anthropologists and other qualitative researchers, this popularization too often results in shallow understandings of culture, divorcing ethnography it from its foundations. In response, they reframe the field by re-attaching ethnography to theoretically robust and methodologically rigorous cultural analysis. The engrossing text draws on decades of the authors’ own eclectic research—from coffee in Bangkok and boredom in New Zealand to computing in the United States—using methodologies from focus groups and rapid appraisal to semiotics and visual ethnography. Five provocative forewords by leaders in consumer research further push the boundaries of the field and challenge the boundaries of academic and applied work. In addition to reorienting the field for academics and practitioners, this book is an ideal text for students, who are increasingly likely to both study and work in corporate environments.
Decision-making can be difficult and often results in necessary trade-offs, e.g., safety versus price in the purchasing of an automobile. This work provides a model of trade-off difficulty, focusing on its antecedents and consequences. The authors advance a new framework for the integration of the emotional and cognitive aspects of decision-making and argue that consumers perceive and appraise their choices in light of their goals and potential coping strategies.
Richard TUCK Harvard University Press, 2008
Library of Congress HB846.8.T78 2008 |
Dewey Decimal 302/.13
A proposition of contemporary economics and political science is that it would be an exercise of reason, not a failure of it, not to contribute to a collective project if the contribution is negligible, but to benefit from it nonetheless.Tuck makes careful distinctions between the prisone's dilemma problem, threshold phenomena such as voting, and free riding. He analyzes the notion of negligibility, and shows some of the logical difficulties in the idea - and how the ancient paradox of the sorites illustrates the difficulties.
During World War II, U.S. businesses devised marketing strategies that encouraged consumers to believe their country’s wartime experience would launch a better America. Advertisements and promotional articles celebrated the immense industrial output that corporations achieved during the war. These commercial messages positioned wartime technologies and corporate expertise as the means to streamline America and invent a socially hygienic future free from poverty, slums, drudgery, filth, and—for some businessmen—the New Deal administration.
From Submarines to Suburbs surveys the development, strategy, and effect of these campaigns over a span of twenty pivotal years. Cynthia Lee Henthorn takes a close look at how pre-fabricated suburban houses, high-tech kitchens, and miracle products developed from war-related industries were promoted as the hygienic solutions for establishing this better America, one led by the captains of free enterprise.
As Henthorn demonstrates, wartime advertising and marketing strategies tying consumer prosperity to war were easily adapted in the Cold War era, when a symbiotic relationship between military standing and standards of living intensified in a culture dependent on defense spending. Were the efforts to engineer a better America successful? Using documentary evidence in the form of numerous advertisements, From Submarines to Suburbs stands as a significant contribution to understanding how today’s “better” America evolved.
The Motherhood Business is a piercing collection of ten original essays that reveal the rhetoric of the motherhood industry. Focusing on the consumer life of mothers and the emerging entrepreneurship associated with motherhood, the collection considers how different forms of privilege (class, race, and nationality) inform discourses about mothering, consumption, mobility, and leisure.
The Motherhood Business follows the harried mother’s path into the anxious maelstrom of intelligent toys, healthy foods and meals, and educational choices. It also traces how some enterprising mothers leverage cultural capital and rhetorical vision to create thriving baby- and child-based businesses of their own, as evidenced by the rise of mommy bloggers and “mompreneurs”over the last decade.
Starting with the rapidly expanding global fertility market, The Motherhood Business explores the intersection of motherhood, consumption, and privilege in the context of fertility tourism, international adoption, and transnational surrogacy. The synergy between motherhood and the marketplace demonstrated across the essays affirms the stronghold of “intensive mothering ideology” in decisions over what mothers buy and how they brand their businesses even as that ideology evolves. Across diverse contexts, the volume also identifies how different forms or privilege shape how mothers construct their identities through their consumption and entrepreneurship.
Although social observers have long commented on the link between motherhood and consumerism, little has been written within the field of rhetoric. Penetrating and interdisciplinary, The Motherhood Business illuminates how consumer culture not only shapes contemporary motherhood but also changes in response to mothers who constitute a driving force of the economy.
While overconsumption by the developed world's roughly one billion inhabitants is an abiding problem, another one billion increasingly affluent "new consumers" in developing countries will place additional strains on the earth's resources, argue authors Norman Myers and Jennifer Kent in this important new book.
The New Consumers examines the environmental impacts of this increased consumption, with particular focus on two commodities -- cars and meat -- that stand to have the most far-reaching effects. It analyzes consumption patterns in a number of different countries, with special emphasis on China and India (whose surging economies, as well as their large populations, are likely to account for exceptional growth in humanity's ecological footprint), and surveys big-picture issues such as the globalization of economies, consumer goods, and lifestyles. Ultimately, according to the orman Myers and Jennifer Kent, the challenge will be for all of humanity to transition to sustainable levels of consumption, for it is unrealistic to expect "new" consumers not to aspire to be like the "old" ones. Cogent in its analysis, The New Consumers issues a timely warning of a major and developing environmental trend, and suggests valuable strategies for ameliorating its effects.
When reporters asked about the Bush administration’s timing in making their case for the Iraq war, then Chief of Staff Andrew Card responded that “from an marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August.” While surprising only in its candor, this statement signified the extent to which consumer culture has pervaded every aspect of life. For those troubled by the long reach of the marketplace, resistance can seem futile. However, a new generation of progressive activists has begun to combat the media supremacy of multinational corporations by using the very tools and techniques employed by their adversaries.
In OurSpace, Christine Harold examines the deployment and limitations of “culture jamming” by activists. These techniques defy repressive corporate culture through parodies, hoaxes, and pranks. Among the examples of sabotage she analyzes are the magazine Adbusters’ spoofs of familiar ads and the Yes Men’s impersonations of company spokespersons.
While these strategies are appealing, Harold argues that they are severely limited in their ability to challenge capitalism. Indeed, many of these tactics have already been appropriated by corporate marketers to create an aura of authenticity and to sell even more products. For Harold, it is a different type of opposition that offers a genuine alternative to corporate consumerism. Exploring the revolutionary Creative Commons movement, copyleft, and open source technology, she advocates a more inclusive approach to intellectual property that invites innovation and wider participation in the creative process.
From switching the digital voice boxes of Barbie dolls and G.I. Joe action figures to inserting the silhouetted image of Abu Ghraib’s iconic hooded and wired victim into Apple’s iPod ads, high-profile instances of anticorporate activism over the past decade have challenged, but not toppled, corporate media domination. OurSpace makes the case for a provocative new approach by co-opting the logic of capitalism itself.
Christine Harold is assistant professor of speech communication at the University of Georgia.
From the candy bar to the cigarette, records to roller coasters, a technological revolution during the last quarter of the nineteenth century precipitated a colossal shift in human consumption and sensual experience. Food, drink, and many other consumer goods came to be mass-produced, bottled, canned, condensed, and distilled, unleashing new and intensified surges of pleasure, delight, thrill—and addiction.
In Packaged Pleasures, Gary S. Cross and Robert N. Proctor delve into an uncharted chapter of American history, shedding new light on the origins of modern consumer culture and how technologies have transformed human sensory experience. In the space of only a few decades, junk foods, cigarettes, movies, recorded sound, and thrill rides brought about a revolution in what it means to taste, smell, see, hear, and touch. New techniques of boxing, labeling, and tubing gave consumers virtually unlimited access to pleasures they could simply unwrap and enjoy. Manufacturers generated a seemingly endless stream of sugar-filled, high-fat foods that were delicious but detrimental to health. Mechanically rolled cigarettes entered the market and quickly addicted millions. And many other packaged pleasures dulled or displaced natural and social delights. Yet many of these same new technologies also offered convenient and effective medicines, unprecedented opportunities to enjoy music and the visual arts, and more hygienic, varied, and nutritious food and drink. For better or for worse, sensation became mechanized, commercialized, and, to a large extent, democratized by being made cheap and accessible. Cross and Proctor have delivered an ingeniously constructed history of consumerism and consumer technology that will make us all rethink some of our favorite things.
If you're a woman and you shop for a new car, will you really get the best deal? If you're a man, will you fare better? If you're a black man waiting to receive an organ transplant, will you have to wait longer than a white man?
In Pervasive Prejudice? Ian Ayres confronts these questions and more. In a series of important studies he finds overwhelming evidence that in a variety of markets—retail car sales, bail bonding, kidney transplantation, and FCC licensing—blacks and females are consistently at a disadvantage. For example, when Ayres sent out agents of different races and genders posing as potential buyers to more than 200 car dealerships in Chicago, he found that dealers regularly charged blacks and women more than they charged white men. Other tests revealed that it is commonly more difficult for blacks than whites to receive a kidney transplant because of federal regulations. Moreover, Ayres found that minority male defendants are frequently required to post higher bail bonds than their Caucasian counterparts.
Traditional economic theory predicts that free markets should drive out discrimination, but Ayres's startling findings challenge that position. Along with empirical research, Ayres offers game—theoretic and other economic methodologies to show how prejudice can enter the bargaining process even when participants are supposedly acting as rational economic agents. He also responds to critics of his previously published studies included here. These studies suggest that race and gender discrimination is neither a thing of the past nor merely limited to the handful of markets that have been the traditional focus of civil rights laws.
This revised version of Kaela Jubas’ award winning dissertation focuses on contemporary shopping practices, analyzing the ways concerned shoppers think about globalization, consumption, and their personal effect on the status quo. By using numerous examples from modern advertising, interviews with self-described “radical” shoppers, and selected quotes from scholars and experts, Jubas delves into questions of social justice, environmental awareness, and consumer identity -- all demonstrated by individual choices made at the checkout counter. Employing a variety of qualitative research techniques and complex and counterintuitive cultural theory, Jubas’s study will interest those in adult education, cultural studies, consumer research, and qualitative inquiry.
Ethnography is an increasingly important research method in the private sector, yet ethnographic literature continues to focus on an academic audience. Sam Ladner fills the gap by advancing rigorous ethnographic practice that is tailored to corporate settings where colleagues are not steeped in social theory, research time lines may be days rather than months or years, and research sponsors expect actionable outcomes and recommendations. Ladner provides step-by-step guidance at every turn--covering core methods, research design, using the latest mobile and digital technologies, project and client management, ethics, reporting, and translating your findings into business strategies. This book is the perfect resource for private-sector researchers, designers, and managers seeking robust ethnographic tools or academic researchers hoping to conduct research in corporate settings. More information on the book is available at http://www.practicalethnography.com/.
Seldom considered is whether markets do an adequate job of shaping our tastes. David George argues that they do not, and that the standard economic definition of efficiency can be used to demonstrate that the market ignores people's desires about their desires. He concludes that markets perform poorly with respect to second-order preferences, thus worsening the problem of undesired desires. The book further investigates changes in perceptions and public policy toward such activities as gambling, credit, entertainment, and sexual behavior.
David George is Chair and Professor Economics, LaSalle University.
Over the past half-century, bookselling, like many retail industries, has evolved from an arena dominated by independent bookstores to one in which chain stores have significant market share. And as in other areas of retail, this transformation has often been a less-than-smooth process. This has been especially pronounced in bookselling, argues Laura J. Miller, because more than most other consumer goods, books are the focus of passionate debate. What drives that debate? And why do so many people believe that bookselling should be immune to questions of profit?
In Reluctant Capitalists, Miller looks at a century of book retailing, demonstrating that the independent/chain dynamic is not entirely new. It began one hundred years ago when department stores began selling books, continued through the 1960s with the emergence of national chain stores, and exploded with the formation of “superstores” in the 1990s. The advent of the Internet has further spurred tremendous changes in how booksellers approach their business. All of these changes have met resistance from book professionals and readers who believe that the book business should somehow be “above” market forces and instead embrace more noble priorities.
Miller uses interviews with bookstore customers and members of the book industry to explain why books evoke such distinct and heated reactions. She reveals why customers have such fierce loyalty to certain bookstores and why they identify so strongly with different types of books. In the process, she also teases out the meanings of retailing and consumption in American culture at large, underscoring her point that any type of consumer behavior is inevitably political, with consequences for communities as well as commercial institutions.
Every year, about 25,000 new products are introduced in the United States. Most of these products fail—at considerable expense to the companies that produce them. Such failures are typically thought to result from consumers’ resistance to innovation, but marketers have tended to focus instead on consumers who show little resistance, despite these “early adopters” comprising only 20 percent of the consumer population.
Shaul Oreg and Jacob Goldenberg bring the insights of marketing and organizational behavior to bear on the attitudes and behaviors of the remaining 80 percent who resist innovation. The authors identify two competing definitions of resistance: In marketing, resistance denotes a reluctance to adopt a worthy new product, or one that offers a clear benefit and carries little or no risk. In the field of organizational behavior, employees are defined as resistant if they are unwilling to implement changes regardless of the reasons behind their reluctance. Seeking to clarify the act of rejecting a new product from the reasons—rational or not—consumers may have for doing so, Oreg and Goldenberg propose a more coherent definition of resistance less encumbered by subjective, context-specific factors and personality traits. The application of this tighter definition makes it possible to disentangle resistance from its sources and ultimately offers a richer understanding of consumers’ underlying motivations. This important research is made clear through the use of many real-life examples.
The sheer intensity and violence of Germany’s twentieth century—through the end of an empire, two world wars, two democracies, and two dictatorships—provide a unique opportunity to assess the power and endurance of commercial imagery in the most extreme circumstances. Selling Modernity places advertising and advertisements in this tumultuous historical setting, exploring such themes as the relationship between advertising and propaganda in Nazi Germany, the influence of the United States on German advertising, the use of advertising to promote mass consumption in West Germany, and the ideological uses and eventual prohibition of advertising in East Germany.
While the essays are informed by the burgeoning literature on consumer society, Selling Modernity focuses on the actors who had the greatest stake in successful merchandising: company managers, advertising executives, copywriters, graphic artists, market researchers, and salespeople, all of whom helped shape the depiction of a company’s products, reputation, and visions of modern life. The contributors consider topics ranging from critiques of capitalism triggered by the growth of advertising in the 1890s to the racial politics of Coca-Cola’s marketing strategies during the Nazi era, and from the post-1945 career of an erotica entrepreneur to a federal anti-drug campaign in West Germany. Whether analyzing the growing fascination with racialized discourse reflected in early-twentieth-century professional advertising journals or the postwar efforts of Lufthansa to lure holiday and business travelers back to a country associated with mass murder, the contributors reveal advertising’s central role in debates about German culture, business, politics, and society.
Contributors. Shelley Baranowski, Greg Castillo, Victoria de Grazia, Guillaume de Syon, Holm Friebe, Rainer Gries, Elizabeth Heineman, Michael Imort, Anne Kaminsky, Kevin Repp , Corey Ross, Jeff Schutts, Robert P. Stephens, Pamela E. Swett, S. Jonathan Wiesen, Jonathan R. Zatlin
"I didn't want to remain a hick from the mountains... In my cultural naivete I saw McDonald's as a place somehow where modern culture capital could be dispensed. Keeping these memories in mind as years later I monitored scores of conversations about the Golden Arches in the late 1990's, it became apparent that McDonald's is still considered a marker of a modern identity."
So begins a complicated journey into the power of one of the most recognizable signs of American capitalism: The Golden Arches. The Sign of the Burger examines how McDonald's captures our imagination: as a shorthand for explaining the power of American culture; as a symbol of the strength of consumerism; as a bellwether for the condition of labor in a globalized economy; and often, for better or worse, a powerful educational tool that often defines the nature of culture for hundreds of millions the world over.
While many books have offered simple complaints of the power of McDonald's, Joe Kincheloe explores the real ways McDonald's affects us. We see him as a young boy in Appalachia, watching the Golden Arches going up as the—hopeful—arrival of the modern into his rural world. And we travel with him around the world to see how this approach of the modern affects other people, either through excitement or through attempts at resisting McDonald's power, often in unfortunate ways. Through it all, Kincheloe makes clear, with lucidity and depth, the fact that McDonald's growth will in many ways determine both the nature of accepting and protesting its ever-expanding presence in our global world.
Gary S. Becker Harvard University Press, 2000
Library of Congress HM548.B43 2000 |
Dewey Decimal 306.3
Economists assume that people make choices based on their preferences and their budget constraints. The preferences and values of others play no role in the standard economic model. This feature has been sharply criticized by other social scientists, who believe that the choices people make are also conditioned by social and cultural forces. Economists, meanwhile, are not satisfied with standard sociological and anthropological concepts and explanations because they are not embedded in a testable, analytic framework.
In this book, Gary Becker and Kevin Murphy provide such a framework by including the social environment along with standard goods and services in their utility functions. These extended utility functions provide a way of analyzing how changes in the social environment affect people's choices and behaviors. More important, they also provide a way of analyzing how the social environment itself is determined by the interactions of individuals.
Using this approach, the authors are able to explain many puzzling phenomena, including patterns of drug use, how love affects marriage patterns, neighborhood segregation, the prices of fine art and other collectibles, the social side of trademarks, the rise and fall of fads and fashions, and the distribution of income and status.
Table of Contents:
Part I The Effect of Social Capital on Market Behavior 1. The Importance of Social Interactions 2. Social Forces, Preferences, and Complementarity 3. Are Choices "Rational" When Social Capital Is Important?
Part II The Formation of Social Capital 4. Sorting by Marriage 5. Segregation and Integration in Neighborhoods 6. The Social Market for the Great Masters and Other Collectibles with William Landes 7. Social Markets and the Escalation of Quality: The World of Veblen Revisited with Edward Glaeser 8. Status and Inequality with IvÃƒÂ¡n Werning
Part III Fads, Fashions, and Norms 9. Fads and Fashion 10. The Formation of Norms and Values
References Author Index Subject Index
Reviews of this book: [Becker and Murphy] are pioneers in the quest to extend the boundaries of rational choice theory in economics...They depict human beings not as isolated individuals but as members of society, shaped by social and cultural forces...This book marks another step in bringing economic theory closer to social reality. --David Throsby, Times Literary Supplement
Reviews of this book: This fascinating short book seeks to advance a 'social economics' field that would tackle such interpersonal issues head-on. It does so by addressing a diverse set of issues that includes social capital, habits and social interactions, sorting and marriage markets, segregation and integration of neighborhoods, escalation in product quality, status and inequality, and the modeling of fashions, norms, and values. --Stephen R. G. Jones, Journal of Economic Literature
From 1840 to 1900, midwestern Americans experienced firsthand the profound economic, cultural, and structural changes that transformed the nation from a premodern, agrarian state to one that was urban, industrial, and economically interdependent. Midwestern commercial farmers found themselves at the heart of these changes. Their actions and reactions led to the formation of a distinctive and particularly democratic consumer ethos, which is still being played out today.
By focusing on the consumer behavior of midwestern farmers, Sowing the American Dream provides illustrative examples of how Americans came to terms with the economic and ideological changes that swirled around them. From the formation of the Grange to the advent of mail-order catalogs, the buying patterns of rural midwesterners set the stage for the coming century.
Carefully documenting the rise and fall of the powerful purchasing cooperatives, David Blanke explains the shifting trends in collective consumerism, which ultimately resulted in a significant change in the way that midwestern consumers pursued their own regional identity, community, and independence.
A taxi driver’s life is dangerous work. Picking up a bad customer can leave the driver in a vulnerable position, and erring even once can prove fatal. To protect themselves, taxi drivers must quickly and accurately assess the trustworthiness of complete strangers. In Streetwise, Diego Gambetta and Heather Hamill take this predicament as a prototypical example of many trust decisions, where people must act on limited information and judge another person’s trustworthiness based on signs that may or may not be honest indicators of that person’s character or intent. Gambetta and Hamill analyze the behavior of cabbies in two cities where driving a taxi is especially perilous: New York City, where drivers have been the targets of frequent and violent robberies, and Belfast, Northern Ireland, a divided metropolis where drivers have been swept up in the region’s sectarian violence.
Based on in-depth ethnographic research, Streetwise lets drivers describe in their own words how they seek to determine the threat posed by each potential passenger. The drivers’ decisions about whom to trust are treated in conjunction with the “sign-management” strategies of their prospective passengers—both genuine passengers who try to persuade drivers of their trustworthiness and the villains who mimic them. As the theory that guides this research suggests, drivers look for signs that correlate closely with trustworthiness but are difficult for an impostor to mimic. A smile, a business suit, or a skullcap alone do not reassure drivers, as any criminal could easily wear them. Only if attached to other signs—a middle-aged woman, a business address, or a synagogue—are they persuasive. Drivers are adept at deciphering deceitful signals, but trickery is occasionally undetectable, so they must adopt defensive strategies to minimize their exposure to harm. In Belfast, where drivers are locals and often have histories of paramilitary involvement, “macho” posturing often serves to deter would-be criminals, while New York cabbies, mostly immigrants who view themselves as outsiders, try simply to minimize the damage from attacks by appeasing robbers and carrying only small amounts of cash.
For most people, erring in a trust decision leads to a broken heart or a few dollars lost. For cab drivers, such an error could mean losing their lives. The way drivers negotiate these high stakes offers us vivid insight into how to determine another person’s trustworthiness. Written with clarity and color, Streetwise invites the reader to ride shotgun with cabbies as they grapple with a question of relevance to us all: which signs of trustworthiness can we really trust?
A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation Series on Trust
In the years that followed World War II, both the United States and the newly formed West German republic had an opportunity to remake their economies. Since then, much has been made of a supposed “Americanization” of European consumer societies—in Germany and elsewhere. Arguing against these foggy notions, Jan L. Logemann takes a comparative look at the development of postwar mass consumption in West Germany and the United States and the emergence of discrete consumer modernities.
In Trams or Tailfins?, Logemann explains how the decisions made at this crucial time helped to define both of these economic superpowers in the second half of the twentieth century. While Americans splurged on private cars and bought goods on credit in suburban shopping malls, Germans rebuilt public transit and developed pedestrian shopping streets in their city centers—choices that continue to shape the quality and character of life decades later. Outlining the abundant differences in the structures of consumer society, consumer habits, and the role of public consumption in these countries, Logemann reveals the many subtle ways that the spheres of government, society, and physical space define how we live.