Point of Purchase
How Shopping Changed American Culture
By Sharon Zukin
Routledge – 2004 – 336 pages
This accessible, smart, and expansive book on shopping's impact on American life is in part historical, stretching back to the mid-19th century, yet also has a contemporary focus, with material on recent trends in shopping from the internet to Zagat's guides.
Drawing inspiration from both Pierre Bourdieu's work and Walter Benjamin's seminal essay on the shopping arcades of 19th-century Paris, Zukin explores the forces that have made shopping so central to our lives: the rise of consumer culture, the never-ending quest for better value, and shopping's ability to help us improve our social status and attain new social identities.
"Sharon Zukin avoids clichés, never ducks an argument, and digs out unfamiliar facts. The result is a brilliant and unsettling essay." - Richard Sennett, London School of Economics
Prologue: What Shopping Is
1. A Brief History of Shopping
2. Julia Learns to Shop
3. From Woolworth's to Wal-Mart
4. "The Perfect Pair of Leather Pants"
5. B. Altman, Ralph Lauren, and the Death of the Leisure Class
6. Artemio Goes to Tiffany's
7. Consumer Guides and the Invention of Lifestyle
8. How Brooks Brothers Came to Look Like Banana Republic
9. The Zen of Internet Shopping
10. Zagats' 'R' Us
Epilogue: What Shopping Should Be
Sharon Zukin teaches sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center and at Brooklyn College, where she holds an endowed chair. She is the author of numerous books and articles, and is a major figure in both urban studies and cultural sociology. She lives in New York City.