1st Edition

On The Origins of Self-Service

By Franck Cochoy Copyright 2016
    238 Pages
    by Routledge

    238 Pages 72 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Most marketing scholars implicitly consider independent merchants as conservative and passive actors, and study the modernization of retailing via department stores, chains and supermarkets. In this innovative study, Franck Cochoy challenges this perspective and takes a close look at the transformation of commerce through the lens of Progressive Grocer, an American trade magazine launched in 1922.

    Aimed at modernizing small independent grocery stores, Progressive Grocer sowed the seeds for modern self-service which spread in small retail outlets, sometimes well before the advent of the large retail spaces which are traditionally viewed as the origin of the self-service economy. The author illustrates how this publication had a highly influential role on what the trade considered to be best practice and shaped what was considered to be cutting edge. By displacing the consumer and their agency from the centre of analytic attention, this innovative book highlights the complex impact of social, technical and retailing environment factors that structure and delimit consumer freedom in the marketplace.

    This detailed critical analysis of the origins of self-service will be of interest to a wide variety of scholars not only in marketing and consumer research, but also in business history, sociology and cultural studies.

    Introduction 1. How To Read Progressive Grocer 2. Making People do Business with Words-Things 3. The Beginnings of the Progressive Grocer: Improving commerce before transforming it 4. Transforming Commerce: A Business of Pens and Brands 5. Rolling Stores, or The Tour of Trolleys 6. Conclusion


    Franck Cochoy is Professor of Sociology at the University of Toulouse, France. He is one of France’s most influential economic sociologists and has published extensively in the area of critical marketing and consumer culture, specifically the market mediations between producers and consumers, from marketing to packaging, via advertising and other devices.

    'Franck Cochoy is one of the most theoretically adept scholars working in marketing and consumer research at the moment. This book is a major contribution to the history of marketing theory and practice. It demands attention.' - Mark Tadajewski,  Professor, Durham University, UK

    "...the wealth of bibliographical references places it well within historiographic research, of which it constitutes a significant advance.."- Emanuela Scarpellini, Università degli Studi di Milano, Milano, Italy.