The Business of Consumer Culture History: Systems, Interactions, and Modernization

  • Pamela Walker Laird
Part of the Worlds of Consumption book series (WC)


Asingle business might be a firm or simply the activity by which someone makes a living. Business., however, encompasses the collectivity of systems, by which people and institutions interact within most modern economies. And, although there are many ways people can acquire the economic means with which to make claims on resources, there is only one way to purchase. resources, and that is by interacting with businesses. Business history resides, therefore, at the core of consumer culture history, which itself has reflected and energized the processes of modernization. As scholars have wrestled with explaining consumer cultures, early work mainly examined single factors—manufacturers, advertising agents, urbanization, consumers, law makers, regulators, retailers, social and cultural meanings, and so on. Building on these achievements, historians have begun to move toward more complex and integrative interactive. and system.-based approaches for tackling historical questions about consumer cultures. Such approaches are particularly apropos because commerce’s growth within the larger context of modernization rewarded participants who developed new systems for engagement—between people conducting business in different regions and sectors; between consumers, retailers, and producers; and between different components of the polity, just to name a few. Although business historians once tended to study their subjects as if they functioned as distinct and isolated entities within narrow and closed systems, their work increasingly recognizes that neither businesspeople nor consumers, and certainly not the actions that connected them, ever operated in isolation.


Social Capital General System Theory Consumer Culture Consumer Society Advertising Agency 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© The German Historical Institute 2012

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  • Pamela Walker Laird

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