1st Edition

A History of American Consumption Threads of Meaning, Gender, and Resistance

By Terrence Witkowski Copyright 2018
    314 Pages
    by Routledge

    314 Pages 106 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The United States has been near the forefront of global consumption trends since the 1700s, and for the past century and more, Americans have been the world’s foremost consuming people. Informed and inspired by the literature from consumer culture theory, as well as drawing from numerous studies in social and cultural history, A History of American Consumption tells the story of the American consumer experience from the colonial era to the present, in three cultural threads.

    These threads recount the assignment of meaning to possessions and consumption, the gendered ideology and allocation of consumption roles, and resistance through anti-consumption thought and action. Brief but scholarly, this book provides a thought provoking, introduction to the topic of American consumption history informed by research in consumer culture theory.

    By examining and explaining the core phenomenon of product consumption and its meaning in the changing lives of Americans over time, it provides a valuable contribution to the literature on the subjects of consumption and its causes and consequences. Readable and insightful, it will be of interest to scholars and advanced students in consumer behaviour, advertising, and marketing and business history.

    Table of Contents

    Chapter 1: Writing American Consumption History

    Chapter 2: Consumer Culture Theory in Historical Perspective

    Chapter 3: Colonial Consumption from 1607 to 1790

    Chapter 4: Consumption in a New Nation, 1790 to 1865

    Chapter 5: The Gilded Age, 1865 to 1900

    Chapter 6: Consumption Progress, 1900 to 1930

    Chapter 7: The Great Depression and World War II

    Chapter 8: Consumption from 1945 to 1980

    Chapter 9: American Consumption since 1980

    Chapter 10: Conclusion




    Terrence H. Witkowski is Professor of Marketing and Director of the International Business Program at California State University, USA. Educated at Northwestern University, UCLA, and UC Berkeley, he has published over 120 scholarly works.

    This book is essential reading for anyone wishing to gain a comprehensive grasp of how pluralistic forms of American consumer culture were born, flourished, dissipated, and in some cases, were reinvigorated. Starting before the birth of the nation, Terry Witkowski offers a palatable and penetrating look at seven broadly defined eras of consumer culture history. His choice to compare the developments of consumer culture across three threads – the meaning consumers attribute to goods and services, gender-role discourses as they pertain to household and macro-marketing phenomena, and resistance to consumerism—make for a compelling and coherent narrative. Chockablock with compelling images, this book is sure to remain a vital reference.

    Cele C. Otnes, Investors in Business Education Prof. of Marketing, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA.

    A History of American Consumption provides a much-needed overview of how consumption came to occupy such a central place in the consumer culture of the US. Richly illustrated and meticulously researched, this book makes an important contribution to the growing area of historical research in marketing.

    Jonathan Schroeder, William A. Kern Professor of Communications, Rochester Institute of Technology, USA.