Tales of the Market: New Perspectives on Consumer Society in the 20th Century
By Peter van Dam
The current boom of scholarship on consumer society yields new insights into how the interplay of consumers and markets has created consumer societies. This review highlights how social history and cultural history have converged to demonstrate how citizen-consumers have constituted consumer societies. The alertness to the constitutive role of citizens is visible in definitions of consumer society which stress contemporary perceptions of consumption. In the same vein, the significance of civic organizations such as consumer associations, the labor movement, co-operatives and the fair trade movement for the evolution of consumer societies has come into view. Ultimately, this new focus in the history of consumption raises innovative questions about the entangled nature of consumers and their societies, and of scholars and their subject matter.