Consumers were encouraged to buy not just for themselves, but for the good of the nation. After a decade and a half of hard times resulting from the Great Depression and the war, the embrace of mass consumption, with its supposed far-reaching benefits—greater freedom, democracy, and equality—transformed American life. The extensive suburbanization of metropolitan areas propelled by such government policies as the GI Bill , the shift from downtowns to shopping centers, and the advent of targeted marketing all fueled the consumer economy, but also sharpened divisions among Americans along gender, class, and racial lines. At the same time, mass consumption changed American politics, inspiring new forms of political activism through the civil rights and consumer movements and prompting politicians to apply the latest marketing strategies to their political campaigns. Lizabeth Cohen. She lives in Belmont, Massachusetts, with her husband and two daughters.
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Pop quiz: Patriotism involves a giving your life for your country; b flying the flag on national holidays; c shopping till you drop. If you answered c , you'll be well prepared to follow this Cohen, the Bancroft Prize-winning author of Creating a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, , has written a detailed study of how the mass consumption of consumer goods shaped U.
Lizabeth Cohen. In this signal work of history, Bancroft Prize winner and Pulitzer Prize finalist Lizabeth Cohen shows how the pursuit of prosperity after World War II fueled our pervasive consumer mentality and transformed American life.
Trumpeted as a means to promote the general welfare, mass consumption quickly outgrew its economic objectives and became synonymous with patriotism, social equality, and the American Dream.
Material goods came to embody the promise of America, and the power of consumers to purchase everything from vacuum cleaners to convertibles gave rise to the power of citizens to purchase political influence and effect social change.
Yet despite undeniable successes and unprecedented affluence, mass consumption also fostered economic inequality and the fracturing of society along gender, class, and racial lines.
Forcing Open the Doors of Public Accommodations. Inequality in Mass Suburbia. Reconfiguring Community Marketplaces. She lives in Belmont, Massachusetts, with her husband and two daughters. The Emergence of the Consumers Republic.
A Consumers' Republic
Pop quiz: Patriotism involves a giving your life for your country; b flying the flag on national holidays; c shopping till you drop. If you answered c , you'll be well prepared to follow this Cohen, the Bancroft Prize-winning author of Creating a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, , has written a detailed study of how the mass consumption of consumer goods shaped U. Lizabeth Cohen.
'A Consumers' Republic'
Silverthorne: What do you mean by a "consumers' republic? Cohen: "A consumers' republic" is the terminology I employ in A Consumers' Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America, read an excerpt from the book for what I discovered was a shared understanding among many Americans, beginning right after World War II and lasting into the mids, that the best strategy for reconstructing the nation's economy and reaffirming its democratic values lay with promoting the expansion of mass consumption. Policy makers, business and labor leaders, along with many ordinary Americans put mass consumption at the center of their plans for a prosperous postwar nation. Not only would a dynamic demand-driven economy provide the best route to recovery and affluence, but it would also, they hoped, nurture the long-sought ideal of a more egalitarian and democratic nation. Citizens, living better than ever before, would be on an equal footing with their similarly prospering neighbors.