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.