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Atlantic History Domestic Production and Consumption
by
Robert DuPlessis

Introduction

In the past several decades, household production and consumption have emerged as important—and usually linked—historical subjects. Much of the scholarship is concerned with societies located around the Atlantic, though only a minority attempts either to organize research within an explicitly Atlantic framework or to discuss more than one area in the basin. More commonly, works focus on these topics within individual political units (regions, states, empires), social groups, or categories of consumer goods. Many studies encompass more than the early modern period (16th–18th centuries). But that era is typically seen as decisive, the 18th century most of all. Then, it is frequently argued, occurred a “consumer revolution” that accompanied or, in some accounts, preceded factory industrialization. Even when no consumer revolution is postulated, moreover, scholars generally agree that fundamental changes took place between about 1500 and about 1800: the wide diffusion of innovative agricultural and manufactured commodities in areas in which they had previously been unknown; the proliferation of new shopping venues and retailing techniques; the participation in household production and consumption of marketed goods by many more and more varied groups than ever before. The exciting scholarship that investigates these themes is multinational and multidisciplinary. Anglophone historians have been particularly attuned to developments in anthropology and cultural studies, their counterparts elsewhere to economics and sociology—though neither “school” is exclusive in its orientation and cross-fertilization is constant. Research into household production and consumption in the past can also be found in works on economic and cultural history. More often, these consumer and material culture histories overlap; though consumption is often defined as the processes and practices of acquiring and using, and material culture as what is acquired and used, in reality the distinctions are difficult to maintain either theoretically or empirically. This means that a multitude of competing concepts, interpretations, and approaches characterize the historical study of consumption and household production, making it a lively and rewarding field.

General Overviews

Though Braudel 1982–1984 includes much material about developments in the early modern Atlantic world, there are, as yet, no general treatments of household production and consumption in that basin. However, Brewer and Porter 1994, an influential collection mainly concerned with Europe and North America, has helped define relevant approaches, interpretations, and areas of research. Stearns 2001 is a sweeping history that includes the pre-industrial Atlantic, but its main concerns lie in more recent times and trends. More directly pertaining to the early modern centuries, if limited to Europe, Smith 2002 offers a suggestive understanding of the motivations driving changes in consumer behavior.

  • Braudel, Fernand. Civilization and Capitalism 15th–18th Century. 3 vols. New York: Harper and Row, 1982–1984.

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    Massive, highly influential attempt to synthesize histories of economic change, material culture, and consumption on a global scale within an early version of world-systems theory.

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  • Brewer, John, and Roy Porter, eds. Consumption and the World of Goods. London: Routledge, 1994.

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    Important collection of historiographical, methodological, and substantive articles on consumer goods of all sorts and the new habits and understandings they generated in the 17th and 18th centuries.

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  • Smith, Woodruff D. Consumption and the Making of Respectability, 1600–1800. New York: Routledge, 2002.

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    Argues that concern for respectability and appropriate behavior, which lent a moral and political purpose to consumption, lay behind the rapidly growing demand for tropical foodstuffs (tea, coffee, sugar) and imported textiles in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries.

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  • Stearns, Peter. Consumerism in World History: The Global Transformation of Desire. London: Routledge, 2001.

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    Broad-strokes overview that devotes some attention to early modern developments but focuses on the 19th and 20th centuries.

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Reference Works

A great deal of information about cloth and clothing consumption is available in Jenkins 2003, while Southerton 2010 is the first reference work specifically focused on the topic as a whole. Together with short essays on specific consumer goods, characteristic consumer practices, significant sites of consumption activities, and biographies of individuals, it will include conceptual and theoretical articles and bibliographies linked to the individual entries.

  • Jenkins, David, ed. The Cambridge History of Western Textiles. 2 vols. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

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    Up-to-date compendium of information about the making and many practical, aesthetic, and symbolic uses of the leading category of consumer goods, apart from foodstuffs, from classical antiquity to the present.

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  • Southerton, Dale, ed. Encyclopedia of Consumer Culture. 3 vols. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2010.

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    Concentrating on the period from the 18th century to the present, the entries will nonetheless introduce ideas, approaches, and interpretations of broader historical import.

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Journals

No periodical is concerned solely with the history of household production and consumption, but a wide variety of scholarly journals have published important articles on these subjects in the early modern Atlantic world. Among general historical journals, American Historical Review and Past and Present are the leading venues, while suggestive conceptual essays can be found in Journal of Consumer Culture. Essays focused on economic and social issues appear regularly in Economic History Review and Journal of Economic History; Textile History and Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture feature work on the cloth and clothing, the principal domestic manufacture and consumer product of the time; Food and Foodways and Food, Culture and Society are the best sites for work on the histories of food and culinary practices.

Document Collections

The multitude of reports by the explorers, missionaries, traders, officials, and others who traveled, worked, and governed throughout the early modern Atlantic world are replete with all manner of descriptions about the food, clothing, and many other goods that the varied inhabitants of the basin made, acquired, and used. A large number of these documents by individual authors have been collected, edited, and, if necessary, translated by modern scholars; McDowell 1955 and Rømer 2000 are fine examples. Others can be found in the editions that the Hakluyt Society has been publishing since 1847, which are beginning to appear in digitized form online. Even when no modern edition has been prepared, a great number of early accounts are now available online through collections such as Early English Books Online and Eighteenth Century Collections Online (for works that appeared in English), Europeana for other European languages, and the Sabin Americana database. The very useful Windley 1983 compilation opens a textual window on the sartorial habits of the enslaved, the largest group in the early modern Americas. Further information on this group can be found in the constantly expanding database of images on The Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Americas: A Visual Record website, while The Housewife in Early Modern Rural England: Gender, Markets and Consumption affords unique insight into the production and consumption activities of one 17th-century Englishwoman.

  • Early English Books Online (EEBO). Ann Arbor, MI: ProQuest CSA, 1999–.

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    An electronic database containing digitized versions of nearly every printed work that appeared in the British Isles and British North America between 1475 and 1700. Mainly comprising books, pamphlets, and newspapers, it now includes an increasing number of manuscripts. Numerous works contain topics related to household production and consumption.

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    • Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO). Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale.

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      Like the EEBO in form and content, but covers the period from 1701 to 1800.

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      • Hakluyt Society.

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        Annotated and often illustrated texts and translations of more than two hundred important works in the history of exploration, discovery, and travel. The volumes, frequently published for the first time in English, are global in provenance and scope, though with an emphasis on Western European intercultural and international encounters.

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      • Handler, Jerome S., and Michael L. Tuite Jr., comps. The Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Americas: A Visual Record.

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        Virtually all of the many hundreds of images on this website show the apparel worn by Africans on both sides of the Atlantic, but among the eighteen topics, the following are particularly rich: “Marketing and Urban Scenes” and “Family Life, Child Care, Schools.”

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        • McDowell, W. L., ed. Journals of the Commissioners of the Indian Trade, September 20, 1710–August 29, 1718. Columbia: South Carolina Archives Department, 1955.

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          The records of the body established by the colony of South Carolina to oversee commerce between settlers and indigenous inhabitants reveals much about the diverse ways in which Native Americans participated in Atlantic consumer society. Two other volumes include documents from 1750 to 1765.

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        • Rømer, Ludvig Ferdinand. A Reliable Account of the Coast of Guinea (1760). Translated and edited by Selena Axelrod Winsnes. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

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          Fine annotated edition of a text containing a great deal of information about how much consumer goods cost and the ways in which they were acquired and employed, on the Gold Coast (today’s Ghana) in the mid-18th century.

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        • Sabin Americana. Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale.

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          Makes available in easily searchable digital format more than 33,000 books, pamphlets, broadsides, and other documents on the New World published between 1500 and 1926. Broad topical, generic, chronological, and geographical coverage.

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          • Whittle, Jane. The Housewife in Early Modern Rural England: Gender, Markets and Consumption.

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            The website provides a summary of this research project (2003–2007) and a downloadable pdf file of the most important findings of the analysis of the 1606–1653 household accounts of the Norfolk (England) gentlewoman Alice Le Strange.

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            • Windley, Lathan A., comp. Runaway Slave Advertisements: A Documentary History from the 1730s to 1790. 4 vols. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1983.

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              Prints all notices referring to fugitive slaves that appeared in newspapers in the southern colonies of British North America. Many of the listings include detailed descriptions of apparel.

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            Treatises and Diaries

            As new consumer goods, many of them from colonial areas in the Atlantic, began to circulate widely, contemporaries tried to come to terms with the new possibilities they offered, not to mention the challenges they presented to existing habits and beliefs. Chamberlayne’s pamphlet (Chamberlayne 1682) and Dry Drunk: The Culture of Tobacco in 17th- and 18th-Century Europe reveal the range of responses evoked by tobacco and beverages made from tropical plants, some of the most controversial new goods, while Pepys 1970–1983 shows the impact of the broad and expanding world of goods on a single individual. Whereas many writers censured consumption as a moral failing, Mandeville 1714 praises acquisition, helping to legitimize new attitudes and modes of conduct.

            Newspapers

            Appearing first in the later 16th century, and becoming increasingly abundant in the 18th century, newspaper articles and, especially, advertisements, provide considerable information about household production and consumption. Online versions have become available in the last few years, and their number is growing rapidly. For the English-speaking Atlantic, the Pennsylvania Gazette is particularly important because of the extent of Philadelphia’s commercial contacts. Though most journals in the Early American Newspapers series are from smaller towns and had shorter runs, breadth of coverage makes them equally valuable. Fewer newspapers in other languages are currently accessible online, but some examples can be found on websites such as Gallica.

            Conceptual Works

            Historians of consumption have drawn substantially on theoretical work in anthropology, sociology, and communications. Though diverse in specific orientation, Appadurai 1986, Csikszentmihalyi and Rochberg-Halton 1981, Douglas and Isherwood 1979, and McCracken 1990 have emphasized the coexistence of symbolic meanings and utilitarian purposes in consumer goods and activities. Appadurai 1986, Bianchi 1998, and Fine 2002 highlight as well the importance of understanding consumption as a set of constantly changing social practices. Valuable introductions to scholarship in relevant disciplines are available in Fine 2002 and, most recently, Sassatelli 2007.

            • Appadurai, Arjun, ed. The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1986.

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              Influential interdisciplinary collection about the messages conveyed by commodity exchange. Argues that consumption was an active social practice.

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            • Bianchi, Marina. The Active Consumer: Novelty and Surprise in Consumer Choice. New York: Routledge, 1998.

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              Sociologically and psychologically informed essays on the theory of consumer choice that provide a helpful perspective on 18th-century reactions to the appearance of novel goods.

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            • Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly, and Eugene Rochberg-Halton. The Meaning of Things: Domestic Symbols and the Self. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1981.

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              Important theoretical work on the different ways people deploy possessions to give meaning to their lives. Argues that utilitarian and symbolic functions of objects are intertwined.

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            • Douglas, Mary, and Baron Isherwood. The World of Goods: Towards an Anthropology of Consumption. New York: Basic Books, 1979.

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              Important early emphasis on consumption as central to ritual processes in social systems. Contends that goods mediate relations between persons, helping to stabilize social arrangements and meanings as well as fulfilling utilitarian needs.

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            • Fine, Ben. The World of Consumption: The Material and Cultural Revisited. London and New York: Routledge, 2002.

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              Wide-ranging critical review of historical, economic, and sociological scholarship on consumption and the development of new consumption practices. Particularly attentive to recent work on the effects of globalization on consumer behavior.

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            • McCracken, Grant. Culture and Consumption: New Approaches to the Symbolic Character of Consumer Goods and Activities. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990.

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              Explores ways in which social groups employ consumer goods for a variety of conservative and innovative cultural purposes.

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            • Sassatelli, Roberta. Consumer Culture: History, Theory, and Politics. London: Sage, 2007.

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              Excellent introduction to recent scholarship on consumption together with a sociologically informed study of the emergence of the habits, discourses, and contexts that distinguish consumption in the modern Western world.

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            Domestic Production

            It is often imagined that pre-industrial households were self-sufficient, making all the goods they needed and remaining outside the market economy. But historical scholarship since the late 20th century has effectively demolished this view. It has demonstrated the extent to which even poor families produced for and bought necessities and luxuries in market exchange, thereby giving rise both to widespread domestic manufacturing and to the beginnings of consumer society. Thirsk 1978 was one of the pioneers of this reconceptualization, and that approach has been revised and extended by Overton, et al. 2004. A critical reconsideration of the American version of household self-sufficiency is found in Ulrich 2001. The system of household manufacture for the market on the European Continent is now usually studied within the framework of “proto-industry.” This scholarship is surveyed and advanced in Ogilvie and Cerman 1996, and it has been applied to colonial Spanish America by Miño Grijalva 1993. More recently, de Vries 2008 has developed the theory that the reorganization of household production and consumption in the early modern North Atlantic constituted an “industrious revolution.” Overton, et al. 2004 critiques an earlier version of this idea.

            • de Vries, Jan. The Industrious Revolution: Consumer Behavior and the Household Economy, 1650 to the Present. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

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              Audacious, sweeping account of linked changes in household economic behavior beginning in 17th-century northwestern Europe and North America. Argues that new consumption goods, desires, and goals and reallocated domestic labor paved the way for factory industrialization and new gender roles.

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            • Miño Grijalva, Manuel. La protoindustria colonial Hispanoamericana. Mexico City: Colegio de México, 1993.

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              Rare and welcome attempt to apply proto-industrialization approach to home production in the colonial New World.

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            • Ogilvie, Sheilagh C., and Markus Cerman, eds. European proto-industrialization. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

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              Best overview of the theories and findings regarding this important and much debated way of understanding small-scale, household-based, export-oriented manufacturing and its contributions to European factory industrialization, capitalist development, and social change. The implications for consumer behavior have been spelled out most successfully by Jan de Vries.

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            • Overton, Mark, Jane Whittle, Darron Dean, and Andrew Hann. Production and Consumption in English Households, 1600–1750. London and New York: Routledge, 2004.

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              Critical examination of “consumer revolution” and “industrious revolution” models based particularly on sources from Kent. Argues that changes in material culture were not accompanied by changes in household production.

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            • Thirsk, Joan. Economic Policy and Projects: The Development of a Consumer Society in Early Modern England. Oxford: Clarendon, 1978.

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              Trail-blazing study emphasizing policies that encouraged the development of domestic manufactures that provided much of the population both mass-market necessaries and the incomes to buy them.

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            • Ulrich, Laurel. The Age of Homespun: Objects and Stories in the Creation of an American Myth. New York: Knopf, 2001.

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              Brilliant investigation of goods and texts to recount changes in and the ultimate demise of household production and ideologies about it. Debunks widely held ideas about early American domestic manufacture and self-sufficiency.

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            Marketing

            Many studies of early modern consumption include material on changes in marketing facilities and techniques that put more goods within the reach of more people throughout the Atlantic world. Historians of Europe have been at the forefront of investigating institutions and practices that were crucial for poorer and rural consumers and for the diffusion of new, often colonial, products. Peddlers’ significance, upon which Spufford 1984 was one of the first to insist, has been more widely argued for by Fontaine 1996. Blondé, et al. 2006, Cox 2000, and Stobart, et al. 2007 have illuminated many aspects of urban retailing that widened consumer choice and desires. Cowan 2005 and Ellis 2004 discuss the rise of one of the most characteristic environments of the early modern Atlantic, the coffeehouse, where consuming an “exotic” tropically grown beverage went hand-in-hand with lively intellectual debate.

            • Blondé, Bruno, et al., eds. Buyers and Sellers: Retail Circuits and Practices in Mediaeval and Early Modern Europe. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2006.

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              Engaging collection of essays on the development of sites and habits of shopping for consumer goods.

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            • Cowan, Brian W. The Social Life of Coffee: The Emergence of the British Coffeehouse. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2005.

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              Brisk account of the British adoption of public coffee-drinking in the 17th century, initially by members of gentry society fascinated by new beverages and forms of sociability.

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            • Cox, Nancy C. The Complete Tradesman: A Study of Retailing, 1550–1820. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2000.

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              Careful study of how changes in credit facilities, the ways that goods were advertised and displayed, and selling techniques affected consumers’ access to and choice of goods in early modern England.

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            • Ellis, Markman. The Coffee House: A Cultural History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2004.

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              Survey of the emergence of coffeehouses in Europe and North America and the central role they came to play as venues for the discussion and dissemination of innovative ideas in the 18th century.

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            • Fontaine, Laurence. History of Pedlars in Europe. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1996.

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              Broad study of the networks that effectively introduced new consumer goods to rural people. Argues that large peddling networks that flourished between the 15th and 17th century fragmented thereafter in the face of rising competition from increasingly numerous and sophisticated urban retailers.

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            • Spufford, Margaret. The Great Reclothing of Rural England: Petty Chapmen and Their Wares in the Seventeenth Century. London: Hambledon, 1984.

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              Fascinating account of the peddlers who introduced new goods, styles, and habits of consumption into the English countryside, of the products they sold, and of the regulations imposed on them by suspicious authorities.

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            • Stobart, Jon, Andrew Hann, and Victoria Morgan. Spaces of Consumption: Leisure and Shopping in the English Town, c. 1680–1830. London: Routledge, 2007.

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              Focuses on the development of regional, urban, street, shop, and print environments designed specifically as places for individuals to engage in recreational and consumption activities.

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            Leading Consumer Goods

            A study of domestic production and consumption requires some analysis of the most important consumer goods of the era. To that end, topics below include apparel, foodstuffs, luxury goods, and artistic goods and leisure activities.

            Apparel

            Dress epitomizes the close relationship between utilitarian and symbolic aspects of consumption. A basic human necessity, and thus always a significant item of expenditure, apparel also denotes group membership and exclusion, expresses individuals’ self-presentation, and testifies to aesthetic preferences. Many garments in the past were homemade, so many studies of dress are also concerned with the acquisition of textiles, furs, and other garment materials. By linking previously separate economies, the early modern Atlantic fostered many types of cultural mixing, so new styles emerged—indeed, many scholars argue that “fashion” in its modern sense was born during this period. The sources available for apparel history are multiple: probate inventories, newspaper advertisements, conduct manuals, and many other texts, not to mention the art, fiction, and drama effectively deployed by Munns and Richards 1999 and Ribeiro 1995. Much dress research is set within national (predominantly European) frameworks, whether of single countries—like Delpierre 1997 and Roche 1994 with France, or England for Lemire 1997 and Styles 2008—or of several, like Ribeiro 2005. But as Richardson 2004 and Riello 2006 show, other scholars take a topical approach.

            • Delpierre, Madeleine. Dress in France in the Eighteenth Century. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1997.

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              Exploration of the rise of France as the pace-setter in European clothing fashions.

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            • Lemire, Beverly. Dress, Culture, and Commerce: The English Clothing Trade before the Factory, 1660–1800. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 1997.

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              Fine study of the reasons for and means by which apparel in the pre-industrial period was made, altered, and repaired; circulated new, used, and stolen; and influenced consumers’ needs, desires, and practices.

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            • Munns, Jessica, and Penny Richards, eds. The Clothes That Wear Us: Essays on Dressing and Transgressing in Eighteenth-Century Culture. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1999.

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              Essays on practices and meanings of clothing in art, literature, theater, and daily life in Europe, North America, and the Caribbean. Maintains that dressing and cross-dressing registered broad economic, social, and political changes.

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            • Ribeiro, Aileen. The Art of Dress: Fashion in England and France, 1750 to 1820. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995.

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              Examination, based mainly on visual sources, of changing styles in clothing as fashion leadership passed from France to England.

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            • Ribeiro, Aileen. Fashion and Fiction: Dress in Art and Literature in Stuart England. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2005.

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              Based on visual and literary sources, this study of 17th-century clothing, largely among the English elite, emphasizes the social, political, and moral messages conveyed by apparel.

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            • Richardson, Catherine, ed. Clothing Culture, 1350–1650. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2004.

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              Collection of essays on social, personal, moral, political, economic, and other meanings that Europeans expressed through their apparel in the later Middle Ages and early modern period.

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            • Riello, Giorgio. A Foot in the Past: Consumers, Producers, and Footwear in the Long Eighteenth Century. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

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              Fascinating study of French and English footwear fashions from the late 17th through the early 19th century that is particularly attentive to changes in manufacturing and marketing, uses, and meanings.

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            • Roche, Daniel. The Culture of Clothing: Dress and Fashion in the “Ancien Régime.” Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

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              Influential examination of changes in types of fabrics and garments worn, tailoring, methods by which clothing circulated, and beliefs about proper and desirable appearance that together comprised the several Parisian “clothing systems” of the late 17th and 18th centuries.

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            • Styles, John. The Dress of the People: Everyday Fashion in Eighteenth-Century England. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008.

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              Careful examination of the multiple uses and meanings of the apparel worn by the majority of Britons; contends that fashions originated in many social classes rather than simply from the elite.

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            Foodstuffs

            Food and drink are, like clothing, fundamental human needs, and like textiles, have been central to market exchange since earliest antiquity. As with cloth, too, the development of the Atlantic economies brought formerly distinct food regimes into contact, introducing all manner of new comestibles into the diets of everyone living in the basin—and beyond. Some of these new items, the recipes and beverages concocted from them, and the further changes in cuisines and cultures that they promoted, have been the subjects of numerous fine recent books. Mintz 1985, a superb study of sugar—the defining crop of the Atlantic slave plantation system—has deservedly become a classic; Smith 2005 looks at one of sugar’s most potent and popular by-products. Chocolate, coffee, and tobacco, which spread widely throughout the Atlantic, have been examined singly and together, as foodstuffs and as addictive substances, by Coe and Coe 2007, Goodman 1993, the Grivetti and Shapiro 2009 collection, and Norton 2008. Camporesi 1994 emphasizes the European culinary innovations that followed in the wake of the newly available foods; Thirsk 2007 attends to what English cooking lost. Higman 2008 examines the cuisine that emerged in polyglot, multiethnic Jamaica.

            • Camporesi, Piero. Exotic Brew: The Art of Living in the Age of Enlightenment. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 1994.

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              Analysis of changing culinary habits of European elites as global goods became increasingly fashionable. Argues that French cuisine set the dominant trends in food as in other cultural realms.

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            • Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. The True History of Chocolate. New York: Thames and Hudson, 2007.

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              Illustrated history of an archetypal Atlantic consumer good from its Central American origins several millennia ago. Devotes much attention to the large-scale commercialization and popularization of chocolate by early modern Europeans.

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            • Goodman, Jordan. Tobacco in History: The Cultures of Dependence. London: Routledge, 1993.

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              Focusing on the formative period before 1800, this study examines the place of tobacco in precontact Amerindian cultures, its appeal to Europeans, and its cultivation, marketing, and consumption by New World settlers and their metropolitan customers.

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            • Grivetti, Louis Evan, and Howard-Yana Shapiro, eds. Chocolate: History, Culture, and Heritage. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2009.

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              Rich, satisfying brew of scholarly essays on many aspects of the production and many uses of chocolate as consumption spread throughout the early modern Atlantic world and increasingly worldwide. Particular focus on early modern developments.

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            • Higman, B. W. Jamaican Food: History, Biology, Culture. Kingston, Jamaica: University of the West Indies Press, 2008.

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              A comprehensive examination of the plants, animals, and inorganic matter that Jamaicans eat, how they obtain them, how they prepare and eat them, and the diverse reasons why they eat them.

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            • Mintz, Sidney W. Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History. New York: Viking, 1985.

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              Highly influential, oft-quoted investigation of the multiple and complex effects of this quintessential Atlantic commodity on social relations, symbolic meanings, and cultural practices as it changed from a luxury to a central item in popular consumption.

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            • Norton, Marcy. Sacred Gifts, Profane Pleasures: A History of Tobacco and Chocolate in the Atlantic World. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2008.

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              Fine discussion of reversal of initial European rejection of now widely used consumer products and, more broadly, of disparate acceptance of New World plants.

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            • Smith, Frederick H. Caribbean Rum: A Social and Economic History. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2005.

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              Fine scholarly investigation that integrates economic and cultural histories of rum production and consumption among the multicultural populations throughout the Caribbean.

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            • Thirsk, Joan. Food in Early Modern England: Phases, Fads, Fashions, 1500–1760. London; New York: Hambledon Continuum, 2007.

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              Fascinating study of the dietary attitudes and habits of English commoners, and the health and culinary advice they received. Argues that ordinary people in the early modern period ate tasty and varied foods, many of which subsequently disappeared.

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            Luxury Goods

            An important trend of scholarship has long insisted that the growth of consumption in the early modern period depended largely on the increasing participation of people of middling or even lesser resources in a nascent mass market. In recent years, however, several historians have argued that the lure of luxury goods, often fabricated from expensive raw materials imported from Atlantic American colonies or Asia, provided the crucial incentives that promoted greater consumption. As indicated by the essays in the Fox and Turner 1998 volume, much attention has been devoted to Paris, the traditional epicenter of luxury artisanal manufacture and marketing. Studies have now extended attention to Anglo-American Atlantic cities (Berg 2005), to northwestern Europe as a whole (Berg and Clifford 1999), and to China and the North Atlantic (Berg and Eger 2003).

            • Berg, Maxine. Luxury and Pleasure in Eighteenth-Century Britain. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

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              Fine study of the production, marketing, and adoption of novel luxuries and semi-luxuries by the urban middle classes in Anglo-America.

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            • Berg, Maxine, and Helen Clifford. Consumers and Luxury: Consumer Culture in Europe, 1650–1850. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 1999.

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              Focused on Britain, France, and the Netherlands, the essays are especially concerned with how luxuries affected early modern attitudes, fashions, and trends among consumers.

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            • Berg, Maxine, and Elizabeth Eger, eds. Luxury in the Eighteenth Century: Debates, Desires, and Delectable Goods. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.

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              Essays on innovations in, marketing of, and discussions about fashionable, expensive consumer commodities in China, Europe, and the colonial Americas.

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            • Fox, Robert, and Anthony Turner, eds. Luxury Trades and Consumerism in Ancien Régime Paris. Aldershot, UK, and Brookfield, VT: Ashgate, 1998.

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              Besides detailed studies of specific trades, the volume contains essays considering the impact of luxury goods on consumption patterns throughout France and Europe, particularly in the 18th century.

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            Artistic Goods and Leisure Activities

            Art was a major consumer good long before the early modern era, but demand increased and became more firmly secular in the period. Bermingham and Brewer 1995 traces many aspects of these and related changes. At the same time, with the advent of cheap printed books, a wholly new product entered the market and soon revolutionized consumer and cultural habits among many groups in the population. Spufford 1981 is an early examination of these phenomena; contributors to Hackel and Kelly 2008 examine related issues in an Atlantic context. Less remarked upon, but likewise significant, was the invention of leisure as a consumer good, particularly in the later 18th century, a topic explored by Plumb 1982 and, on a broader canvas, by Corbin 1994.

            • Bermingham, A., and J. Brewer, eds. The Consumption of Culture, 1600–1800: Image, Object, Text. London: Routledge, 1995.

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              Large collection of essays that consider how and why books, paintings, and other artistic objects were consumed, the various meanings that were attributed to them, and the practices that grew up around cultural consumption.

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            • Corbin, Alain. The Lure of the Sea: The Discovery of the Seaside in the Western World, 1750–1840. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994.

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              Imaginative exploration of ideas and practices that transformed European coastal areas from places of danger to sites of healthy and pleasurable leisure-time consumption.

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            • Hackel, Heidi Brayman, and Catherine E. Kelly, eds. Reading Women: Literacy, Authorship, and Culture in the Atlantic World, 1500–1800. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008.

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              Appealing collection of essays on the production and consumption of texts, together with changes in authorial and reading practices, during a period of expanding female literacy in the Anglo-American North Atlantic.

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            • Plumb, J. H. “The Commercialisation of Leisure in Eighteenth-Century England.” In The Birth of a Consumer Society. Edited by Neil McKendrick, John Brewer, and J. H. Plumb. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1982.

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              Early investigation of the emergence of recreation as a major consumer activity.

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            • Spufford, Margaret. Small Books and Pleasant Histories. London: Methuen, 1981.

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              Remarkable examination of the spread of literacy and of cheap books, one of the earliest mass-market consumer goods, among 17th-century English villagers.

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            Leading Areas of Historical Consumer Scholarship

            British scholars originated modern scholarship on consumption in the past, and works focusing on England, as well as its colonies and outposts in the North Atlantic, continue to dominate the field. Still, Continental European societies, notably France and the Low Countries, have been the subjects of important scholarship, as have areas of West Africa involved in the slave trade. More recently, consumption in Spain and its American colonies has started to receive scholarly attention.

            Britain

            The modern historical study of consumption can be traced to McKendrick, et al. 1982, which proposed that fundamental changes occurred in the 18th century. Since then, a number of outstanding works have deepened our knowledge of British consumer goods and habits. Lemire 1991, Lemire 2005, and Weatherill 1996 emphasize the development of mass consumption, driven by new products and by new participants, many of them women. Peck 2005 argues that significant innovations occurred already in the 17th century; Walvin 1997 explores the effects of empire on metropolitan consumption.

            • Lemire, Beverly. Fashion’s Favourite: The Cotton Trade and the Consumer in Britain, 1660–1800. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991.

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              Excellent study of the interplay of popular imported goods and the responses of British consumers, manufacturers, opinion-makers, and politicians that unintentionally gave birth to a booming industry and mass consumption of English cottons.

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            • Lemire, Beverly. The Business of Everyday Life: Gender, Practice, and Social Politics in England, c. 1600–1900. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2005.

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              Important examination of the transformation of popular aspirations and acquisitions resulting in the emergence of mass consumerism in England.

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            • McKendrick, Neil, John Brewer, and J. H. Plumb. The Birth of a Consumer Society. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1982.

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              Pioneering studies postulating an 18th-century “consumer revolution” in Britain and arguing that it affected most groups in society.

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            • Peck, Linda Levy. Consuming Splendor: Society and Culture in Seventeenth-Century England. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

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              Focusing on aristocrats’ acquisition of luxuries, discusses changes in British consumption habits in the context of the increasing availability of new Atlantic and global goods.

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            • Walvin, James. Fruits of Empire: Exotic Produce and British Taste, 1660–1800. New York: New York University Press, 1997.

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              Readable account of the connections between imperial expansion and the reshaping of consumer preferences.

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            • Weatherill, Lorna. Consumer Behaviour and Material Culture in Britain 1660–1760. 2d ed. London and New York: Routledge, 1996.

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              Studies patterns of consumer goods acquisition among the English middle ranks to reveal attitudes and behavior among the half of the population that provided the largest market for innovative and imported goods.

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            British North America and the British North Atlantic

            The British North American colonies have been a second major area of research on consumption in the early modern period. While essays in Carson, et al. 1994 synthesize material from many colonies, Gibb 1996 and Martin 2008 are fine recent examples of the considerable scholarship focused on the Chesapeake Bay region. Most studies emphasize cultural and social aspects, but the provocative Breen 2004 connects consumer and political revolutions. The mother country is usually a presence in investigations of British American consumption, if for no other reason than that the great majority of colonial goods arrived from British ports on British boats. Shammas 1990 is one of the very few to offer a systematic comparison of consumption habits on both sides of the Anglophone Atlantic.

            • Breen, T. H. The Marketplace of Revolution: How Consumer Politics Shaped American Independence. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

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              Contends that participation in consumer markets both knit together originally heterogeneous colonists and, in consumer boycott preceding the American Revolution, provided them with an effective tool for mass mobilization against British rule.

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            • Carson, Cary, Ronald Hoffman, and Peter J, Albert, eds. Of Consuming Interests: The Style of Life in the Eighteenth Century. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1994.

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              Important essays on the ways that goods were advertised, marketed, desired, and bought and their effects on living standards and leisure activities in colonial British North America.

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            • Gibb, James G. The Archaeology of Wealth: Consumer Behavior in Early America. New York: Plenum, 1996.

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              Employs archaeological materials and consumer behavior theory to reveal attitudes and patterns in the Chesapeake Bay region during the 17th century.

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            • Martin, Ann Smart. Buying into the World of Goods: Early Consumers in Backcountry Virginia. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008.

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              Employs the business records of a rural shopkeeper to reveal common and disparate features of the consumption habits of ordinary folk in 18th-century British North America.

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            • Shammas, Carole. The Pre-Industrial Consumer in England and America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.

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              Fine pioneering comparative study of changing patterns of marketing and consumption on both sides of the British Atlantic as they were shaped by new tropical products like tobacco, sugar, and caffeine drinks and manufactures like textiles, glassware, and pottery directed at mass markets.

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            Western Europe

            Following Fernand Braudel (see General Overviews), historians of Western European consumption have usually examined supply as well as demand. In a number of books, Roche has made changes in production central to his interpretation of transformations of consumption; Roche 2000 summarizes and extends his earlier work. Torras and Yun Casalilla 1999 has gathered a broad selection of the excellent research being conducted on Spain, and Vicente 2006 integrates metropolitan and colonial developments in manufacture and consumption. Most of the important scholarship on the Netherlands, rich emporium of global trade, remains available only in Dutch, but Hochstrasser 2007 offers an analysis of that country’s most characteristic art form that provides a unique perspective on consumption practices.

            • Hochstrasser, Julie. Still Life and Trade in the Dutch Golden Age. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007.

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              Uses still life paintings to explore the influence of commodities newly imported into the Netherlands in the 17th century on Dutch household economies and understandings of global trade.

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            • Roche, Daniel. A History of Everyday Things: The Birth of Consumption in France, 1600–1800. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

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              Examines changes in consumption ideal among ordinary people from preserving and transmitting objects to desiring and acquiring new ones.

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            • Torras, J., and Bartolomé Yun Casalilla, eds. Consumo, Condiciones de Vida y Comercialización: Cataluña y Castilla, siglos XVII–XIX. Valladolid, Spain: Junta de Castilla y León, Consejería de Educación y Cultura, 1999.

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              Fine collection of detailed archivally based studies that explore the connections between changing consumption habits and the growth of consumer-goods industries in early modern Spain.

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            • Vicente, Marta V. Clothing the Spanish Empire: Families and the Calico Trade in the Early Modern Atlantic World. New York: Palgrave Macmillian, 2006.

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              Following an account of the production of calicoes in Spain, this book devotes most attention to the marketing and consumption of these fashionable fabrics in Spain and its American empire.

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            Africa and the Iberian Americas

            Currently, the most frequently addressed issue regarding consumption by indigenous peoples within the Atlantic world concerns the effects of imported manufactures on pre-existing cultural practices and meanings (also see Ethnic/Racial Approaches). The influential Johnson 1976 proposed that African societies, using foreign goods to complement their own products, were only marginally transformed by them; that position has been largely sustained by Eltis 2000 but slightly modified by Richardson 1979. Herbert 1984 demonstrates the extent of autonomous African consumer industries. Zeitlin 2005 likewise argues for a relatively slight cultural impact of European goods on an Amerindian community in Spanish America; Van Young 1996 looks more broadly at changes and continuities in the consumer habits of both colonists and indigenous peoples.

            • Eltis, David. The Rise of African Slavery in the Americas. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

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              Important synthesis maintaining that European goods played only a marginal role in African societies throughout the slaving period, contrasting Amerindian and African demand.

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            • Herbert, Eugenia W. Red Gold of Africa: Copper in Precolonial History and Culture. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1984.

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              A thorough, fascinating account of the production of copper and the consumption of objects made from it across the entire African continent that has rightly attained the status of a classic.

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            • Johnson, Marion. “The Atlantic Slave Trade and the Economy of West Africa.” In Liverpool, the African Slave Trade, and Abolition. Edited by Roger Anstey, and P. E. H. Hair, 14–38. Liverpool, UK: Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, 1976.

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              Important early statement of the argument that most goods imported into Africa by European traders did not create new consumption patterns but satisfied existing demand.

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            • Richardson, David. “West African Consumption Patterns and Their Influence on the Eighteenth-Century English Slave Trade.” In The Uncommon Market: Essays in the Economic History of the Atlantic Slave Trade. Edited by Henry Gemery and Jan Hogendorn, 303–330. New York: Academic Press, 1979.

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              Examines how diverse ecological, cultural, and economic conditions in different West African societies resulted in specific patterns of consumer demand for imported goods. Argues that while some English manufacturers managed to win African consumers, products were also obtained from other sources.

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            • Van Young, Eric. “Material Life.” In The Countryside in Colonial Latin America. Edited by Linda Hoberman and Susan Socolow 49–76. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1996.

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              This wide-ranging survey includes much information on patterns of consumption among both indigenous peoples and Iberian settlers.

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            • Zeitlin, Judith Francis. Cultural Politics in Colonial Tehuantepec: Community and State among the Isthmus Zapotec, 1500–1750. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2005.

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              Based substantially on archaeological sources, this imaginative examination of an indigenous community under Spanish colonization argues that the Zapotec adopted numerous imported goods into everyday life without abandoning their cultural identity.

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            Ethnic/Racial Approaches

            As we have seen, many scholars study household production and consumption in the past within delimited nations and regions, or by reference to particular products or categories of goods. Others, however, focus on specific social groups. In the early modern Atlantic world, European contact and trade with Amerindians introduced new items and practices to societies heretofore unacquainted with capitalist market exchange. The speed and thoroughness with which Native Americans were integrated into consumerism, and the meanings that they attributed to their participation, are a matter of lively debate among historians. Axtell 1988 for rapid and deep engagement; Braund 1993 and Hatley 1993 have modified this interpretation.

            • Axtell, James. After Columbus: Essays in the Ethnohistory of Colonial North America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.

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              Collection of essays that contains early and influential argument that Amerindians first experienced the consumer revolution that swept across the Atlantic world in the 17th and 18th centuries.

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            • Braund, Kathryn E. Holland. Deerskins and Duffels: The Creek Indian Trade with Anglo-America, 1685–1815. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1993.

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              Analyzes the broad impact of growing trade with settlers on the largest Amerindian group in southeastern North America. Argues that the rise of “consumerism” marked a fundamental cultural change among the native population.

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            • Hatley, Tom. The Dividing Paths: Cherokees and South Carolinians through the Era of Revolution. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

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              Devotes considerable emphasis to the effects of imported trade goods on native material culture between the late 17th and late 18th centuries.

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            Gender Approaches

            Women are often assigned a special causal role in the growth of consumption in the early modern era. Among other things, they are credited with innovating new shopping habits and encouraging the emergence of fashion. Kowaleski-Wallace 1997 and Jones 2004 analyze these interpretations in England and France, respectively; essays in De Grazia and Furlough 1996 examine a number of cases in a variety of locations. Men were not onlookers, however, as Kuchta 2002 shows.

            • De Grazia, Victoria, and Ellen Furlough, eds. The Sex of Things: Gender and Consumption in Historical Perspective. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.

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              Conceptual, bibliographical, and empirical studies on consumer attitudes and behavior in the modern Western world, focusing on the formation of distinctive gender roles and identities through consumption practices.

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            • Jones, Jennifer M. Sexing La Mode: Gender, Fashion and Commercial Culture in Old Regime France. New York: Berg, 2004.

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              Examines the growing interest in fashion among women of many social groups during the 18th century and the social relations and tensions that developed.

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            • Kowaleski-Wallace, Elizabeth. Consuming Subjects: Women, Shopping, and Business in the Eighteenth Century. New York: Columbia University Press, 1997.

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              Examines contradictory literary depictions of British women engaged in consumption, particularly of newly available colonial and Asian products.

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            • Kuchta, David. The Three-Piece Suit and Modern Masculinity: England, 1550–1850. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002.

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              Fascinating account of the attitudes and ideologies that created and sustained the iconic piece of masculine attire as central to male consumer behavior.

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            Ideology

            Consumption has never been a matter simply of things and practices related to their acquisition and use. It always involves as well a complex mixture of moral, political, and economic attitudes, purposes, and rules, and historians have sought to understand their effects on individual and group behavior. For many centuries, Europeans’ apparel was governed by restrictive laws; Hunt 1996 traces the origins, evolution, and eventual demise of these sumptuary regulations. Pronounced beliefs also existed apart from any legal expression: The opposition between beneficial necessities and harmful luxuries was one of the strongest and most widely held. Hunt 1996 and Sekora 1977 investigate the content and early modern vicissitudes of such convictions as consumers encountered new material and conceptual possibilities. That abundant world of goods not only witnessed the relaxation of old strictures, it also provided weapons for protests against injustice, as Sussman 2000 demonstrates.

            • Berry, Christopher. The Idea of Luxury: A Conceptual and Historical Investigation. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

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              Traces changing understandings of and attitudes toward luxury, particularly the transformation from moral opprobrium to positive valuation in the 18th century.

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            • Hunt, Alan. Governance of the Consuming Passions: A History of Sumptuary Law. New York: St. Martin’s, 1996.

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              Provocative overview of diverse discourses that informed apparel regulations in early modern Europe. Argues that sumptuary laws sought unsuccessfully to manage the emergence of modern consumption practices in a time of deep of social, political, and economic cultural change.

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            • Sekora, John. Luxury: The Concept in Western Thought, Eden to Smollett. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1977.

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              Traces changing ideas of what constituted luxury. Maintains that old laws and attitudes fractured and then collapsed in the 18th century because of the growth of international commerce.

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            • Sussman, Charlotte. Consuming Anxieties: Consumer Protest, Gender, and British Slavery, 1713–1833. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2000.

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              Examination of the ways in which literary texts contributed to the development of antislavery consumer politics.

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            Contexts and Comparisons

            Historians often define the origins and distinctiveness of consumption in the pre-industrial Atlantic as rooted in the mutual impact of formerly unrelated cultures and their diverse goods and the resulting “creolization” of products, styles, and concepts. Adshead 1997, for example, holds that the critical relations obtained between China and Europe. Other scholars have sought the explanation in the immediate European past, though with diverse results. For Jardine 1996, Renaissance Italy was the birthplace of modern consumption, but for Welch 2005 that society developed a system of practices unlike what came later. Braudel 1982–1984, a much-referenced magnum opus, does not propound a clear thesis, nor does it privilege the Atlantic, but it does offer a massive compilation of information about changes in consumption and material life that occurred around the globe in the early modern period.

            • Adshead, Samuel Adrian M. Material Culture in Europe and China, 1400–1800: The Rise of Consumerism. New York: St. Martin’s, 1997.

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              Stimulating comparison of the purchase and use of a broad range of consumer goods. Contends that consumer culture resulted from exchanges between East and West in the early modern period.

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            • Braudel, Fernand. Civilization and Capitalism, 15th–18th Century. 3 vols. New York: Harper and Row, 1982–1984.

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              All three volumes of this imposing synthesis of early modern global economic and social history contain material on consumption, but the first volume is particularly concerned with it.

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            • Jardine, Lisa. Worldly Goods: A New History of the Renaissance. New York: Doubleday, 1996.

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              Focusing on elites and luxury goods, contends that the acquisitive attitudes and practices of modern consumerism arose in the Italian Renaissance.

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            • Welch, Evelyn. Shopping in the Renaissance: Consumer Cultures in Italy, 1400–1600. New Haven, CT, and London: Yale University Press, 2005.

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              Enjoyable survey of the many occasions, places, and modes of acquiring all types of goods, and of contemporaries’ understandings of the marketplace. Argues that consumer culture in Renaissance Italy differed significantly from the modern equivalent.

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            LAST MODIFIED: 05/10/2010

            DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199730414-0032

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