BIROn - Birkbeck Institutional Research Online

Crossing divides: consumption and globalization in history

Trentmann, Frank (2009) Crossing divides: consumption and globalization in history. Journal of Consumer Culture 9 (2), pp. 187-220. ISSN 1469-5405.

Full text not available from this repository.
Official URL:


This article has two aims. First, it seeks to raise awareness about three competing frameworks that are currently dominating the debate about consumption and globalization: 18th-century global exchanges; Americanization; and consumerism. These have tended to operate in virtual isolation and ignorance from each other. Second, through a critical discussion of recent research, the article sets out to complicate conventional chronologies of tradition/modernity/late modernity that continue to underpin much research on consumer cultures. Instead of a linear progression from diversity to standardization, from gift-exchange to commodity-exchange, and from public engagement to privatized materialism, the article points to the dynamic interaction between these forms across time. An appreciation of these longer, deeper, and more variegated histories means that it is problematic to equate consumer culture with the 'age of affluence' after the Second World War. In turn, it calls on critics of consumerism to adopt a more realistic and historically sensitive approach that engages with the longer evolution of consumer culture and avoids idealized images of a recent pre-consumerist past.

Item Type: Article
Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Americanization, consumer culture, consumerism, diversity, empire, practices
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > History, Classics and Archaeology
Depositing User: Administrator
Date Deposited: 13 Jun 2011 08:15
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2013 12:20

Archive Staff Only (login required)

Edit/View Item Edit/View Item