An All-Consuming Century
Why Commercialism Won in Modern America
By (author) Gary S. Cross
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All-Consuming Century by Gary S. Cross
Book DescriptionThe unqualified victory of consumerism in America was not a foregone conclusion. The United States has traditionally been the home of the most aggressive and often thoughtful criticism of consumption, including Puritanism, Prohibition, the simplicity movement, the '60s hippies, and the consumer rights movement. But at the dawn of the twenty-first century, not only has American consumerism triumphed, there isn't even an "ism" left to challenge it. An All-Consuming Century is a rich history of how market goods came to dominate American life over that remarkable hundred years between 1900 and 2000 and why for the first time in history there are no practical limits to consumerism. By 1930 a distinct consumer society had emerged in the United States in which the taste, speed, control, and comfort of goods offered new meanings of freedom, thus laying the groundwork for a full-scale ideology of consumer's democracy after World War II. From the introduction of Henry Ford's Model T ("so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one") and the innovations in selling that arrived with the department store (window displays, self service, the installment plan) to the development of new arenas for spending (amusement parks, penny arcades, baseball parks, and dance halls), Americans embraced the new culture of commercialism-with reservations. However, Gary Cross shows that even the Depression, the counterculture of the 1960s, and the inflation of the 1970s made Americans more materialistic, opening new channels of desire and offering opportunities for more innovative and aggressive marketing. The conservative upsurge of the 1980s and '90s indulged in its own brand of self-aggrandizement by promoting unrestricted markets. The consumerism of today, thriving and largely unchecked, no longer brings families and communities together; instead, it increasingly divides and isolates Americans. Consumer culture has provided affluent societies with peaceful alternatives to tribalism and class war, Cross writes, and it has fueled extraordinary economic growth. The challenge for the future is to find ways to revive the still valid portion of the culture of constraint and control the overpowering success of the all-consuming twentieth century.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780231113137
(224mm x 150mm x 21mm)
Imprint: Columbia University Press
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publish Date: 13-Mar-2002
Country of Publication: United States
Books By Author Gary S. Cross
Packaged Pleasures, Hardback (October 2014)
From the candy bar to the cigarette, records to roller coasters, a technological revolution during the last quarter of the nineteenth century precipitated a colossal shift in human consumption and sensual experience. This book sheds new light on the origins of modern consumer culture and how technologies have transformed human sensory experience.
Playful Crowd, Hardback (September 2005)
Explores playful crowds and the pursuit of pleasure in the twentieth century to offer a transatlantic perspective on changing ideas about leisure, class, and mass culture. This book examines the resorts' different fates as Coney Island has become a shadow of its former self while Blackpool continues to lure visitors and offer attractions.
Cute and the Cool, Hardback (March 2004)» View all books by Gary S. Cross
The cute child -- spunky, yet dependent, naughty but nice -- is largely a 20th-century invention. In this book, Gary Cross examines how that look emerged in American popular culture and how the cute turned into the cool, seemingly its opposite, in stories and games.
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Author Biography - Gary S. Cross
Gary Cross, professor of history at Penn State, is author of numerous articles and eight books, including Kid's Stuff: Toys and the Changing Worlds of American Childhood, Time and Money: The Making of Consumer Culture, A Quest for Time: The Reduction of Work in Britain and France, and Technology and American Society.
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