Thursday, April 28, 2011

More on Consumerism

My reading of Peter N. Stearns' Consumerism in World History continues. Apparently consumerism started in the western world in the 1700s. Gained speed in the 1800s. And by the early part of the 1900s was in full swing. America started out slow, but picked up speed to the point of dominance, especially in the early 20th century.

Women were pointed out as particularly vulnerable to consumerism and many women expressed delight in going to department stores and handling goods for sale. It became a social event for women. And a new disease, kleptomania, was born from so many goods being so delightfully displayed.

Conflict between men and women began to brew as women became targets for attack for spending too much money. But a survey in 1920 showed that while women derived more pleasure from shopping and spent more time shopping, men actually spent more money on clothes and items for leisure activities. Clubs were all the rage and men needed special clothes to be part of their club. Men also spent a lot of money on watching sports and participating in sports, buying equipment, etc... Still, in newspapers and divorce proceedings, men continually accused women of spending too much money.

I wonder if that still holds true today? Do women shop more, but men actually buy the larger ticket items? (golf fees, super bowl tickets, big screen televisions, etc...) I hate shopping and so does husband so we don't really have any conflict there, but I do wonder in general.

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