Cathedrals of Consumption: European Department Stores, 1850-1939, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Cathedrals of Consumption

European Department Stores, 1850-1939, 1st Edition

Edited by Geoffrey Crossick, Serge Jaumain


326 pages

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Originally published in 1999, Cathedrals of Consumption examines the history of the department store. After many decades in which it was almost exclusively historians of retailing and company biographers who were interested in the phenomenon, the department store has now come to attract the attention of historians of culture, consumption, gender, urban life and much more. Indeed, the department store in its classic era of expansive growth has often seemed better than anything else to embody the cultural and social modernity of its time.

The articles in this book range widely in presenting the breadth of these new approaches to department store history. An introductory essay explores the questions that surround the department store from its appearance in the mid-nineteenth century, through its golden age in the decades before the First World War, to the challenges posed in the more competitive world of inter-war Europe. A dozen contributors - writing about Britain, France, Germany, Belgium and Hungary - then examine themes as varied as the new public space which department stores provided for women, the politics of consumption, the architecture of the new stores, the training of the workforce, the cult of shopping, advertising strategies, shoplifting, employer organisations, and the geographical spread of the new stores, while a comparison with eighteenth-century London raises the question of just how new the department store was.

Table of Contents

1. The World of the Department Store: Distribution, Culture and Social Change, Geoffrey Crossick and Serge Jaumain. 2. The Newness of the Department Store: A View from the Eighteenth Century, Claire Walsh. 3. Department Stores as Retail Innovation in Germany: A Historica-Geographical Perspective on the Period 1870-1914. 4. 'Doing the Shops' at Christmas: Women, Men and the Department Store in England, c. 1880-1914, Christopher P. Hosgood. 5. Marianne in the Department Store: Gender and the Politics of Consumption in Turn-of-the-Century Paris, Lisa Tiersten. 6. Theft and Thieves in German Department Stores, 1895-1930: A Discourse on Morality, Crime and Gender, Uwe Spiekermann. 7. Selling Dreams: Advertising Strategies from Grands Magasins to Supermarkets in Ghent, 1900-1960. 8. Acts of Consumption: Musical Comedy and the Desire of Exchange, Erika D. Rappaport. 9. Department Stores and Middle-Class Consumerism in Budapest, 1896-1939, Gábor Gyáni. 10. Les Magasins Réunis: From the Provinces to Paris, From Art Nouveau to Art Deco, Catherine Coley. 11. From Messel to Mendelsohn: German Department Store Architecture in Defence of Urban and Economic Change, Kathleen James. 12. Training Sales Personnel in France Between the Wars, Marie-Emmanuelle Chessel. 13. Employers' Organisations in French Department Stores Dring the Inter-War Period: Between Conservatism and Innovation.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Europe / General
HISTORY / Social History