In Empire of Things, Frank Trentmann unfolds the extraordinary story of our modern material world, from Renaissance Italy and late Ming China to today’s global economy. While consumption is often portrayed as a recent American export, this monumental and richly detailed account shows that it is in fact a truly international phenomenon with a much longer and more diverse history. Trentmann traces the influence of trade and empire on tastes, as formerly exotic goods like coffee, tobacco, Indian cotton and Chinese porcelain conquered the world, and explores the growing demand for home furnishings, fashionable clothes and convenience that transformed private and public life. The nineteenth and twentieth centuries brought department stores, credit cards and advertising, but also the rise of the ethical shopper, new generational identities and, eventually, the resurgence of the Asian consumer.
With an eye to the present and future, Frank Trentmann provides a long view on the global challenges of our relentless pursuit of more—from waste and debt to stress and inequality. A masterpiece of research and storytelling many years in the making, Empire of Things recounts the epic history of the goods that have seduced, enriched and unsettled our lives over the past six hundred years.
Frank Trentmann is a professor of history at Birkbeck College, University of London, and directed the £5 million Cultures of Consumption research program. His last book, Free Trade Nation, won the Royal Historical Society’s Whitfield Prize. He was educated at Hamburg University, the London School of Economics and Political Science, and Harvard University. He has been the Fernand Braudel Senior Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence, as well as a visiting professor at Bielefeld University, the University of St. Gallen, the British Academy, and the École des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris. In 2014 he was awarded the Moore Distinguished Fellowship at the California Institute of Technology.
Selling Out or Buying In? is the first work to illuminate the process by which consumers access to goods and services was liberalized and deregulated in Canada in the second half of the twentieth century. Michael Dawsons engagingly written and detailed exploration of the debates amongst everyday citizens and politicians regarding the pros and cons of expanding shopping opportunities, challenges the assumption of inevitability surrounding Canadas emergence as a consumer society. The expansion of store hours was a highly contested and contingent development that pitted employees, owners and regulators against one another. Dawsons nuanced analysis of archival and newspaper sources reveals the strains that modern capitalism imparted upon the accepted and established rhythms of daily life.
The neoclassical economic framework of household production theory relates the increasing demand for household technology to rising wages and opportunity costs of time: the higher the wage rate, the more costly it is to spend time in unpaid housework activities. Consumer products are thus purchased to make household production processes more efficient and to substitute capital goods for the household’s time (time substitution hypothesis). Although this hypothesis sounds plausible at first sight, it cannot capture the essential phenomena underlying the complex process of the mechanization of the home over the past 200 years. Its major weakness lies in the treatment of consumer preferences, whose explanatory potential is explicitly factored out.
Using the washing of clothes as a microcosm of household economics, this book examines long-term changes in cleanliness consumption patterns from the perspective of an evolutionary economic, psychologically informed consumer theory. Woersdorfer shows how the historical evolution of cleanliness consumption over the past 200 years is the result of the interplay of supply and demand side factors, namely, technical change in washing technology on one side and motivational driving forces and consumer learning capabilities on the other. Hence, not changing relative prices but innate consumer needs and consumer learning processes, leading to a growing understanding of how to satisfy those needs, are the essential driving forces behind the rising technological endowment of the home and the corresponding demand for household appliances.
The Evolution of Household Technology and Consumer Behavior, 1800–2000will be of interest to researchers in the field of evolutionary economics, history of technology, economic history, innovation economics and sociology.
To better understand this important evolution and its ramifications for business, Andrew Benett and Anne O'Reilly launched a groundbreaking study on the New Consumer and the escalating dissatisfaction over hyperconsumerism. Here, for the first time, is an in-depth look at the new face of the global consumer, showing that:
• A significant majority in the seven markets surveyed are deeply worried about the direction in which our consumption-obsessed society is moving. They believe people have become both physically and mentally lazy, and that, as a society, we have lost sight of what truly matters.
• Two-thirds believe they would be better off if they lived more simply, and a quarter say they would be happier if they owned fewer things.
• Half of Americans surveyed are deriving a sense of satisfaction from reducing their purchases during the downturn, and three-quarters are feeling good about cutting back on the amount of waste they create.
• A majority of Americans have no intention of going back to their old shopping patterns, even when the economy rebounds.
Now, as the consumer voice signals its changed priorities, forward-thinking companies are responding by rejecting excess and artificiality in favor of products and communications that offer authenticity, substance, and interconnectedness—all values today's more mindful consumer craves. In this book, the brand experts look at corporations as diverse as Glenmorangie and Wal-Mart to see what lessons they can offer to businesses attempting to grow in the postconsumerism era. They also spoke with corporate leaders in a variety of industries to learn how they are recasting their businesses and brands in order to prepare for the changes ahead. Through cutting-edge research and a sharp look at new industry models, Consumed provides real direction for marketers and managers.
• Genghis Khan, who united East and West by conquest and by opening new trade routes built on groundbreaking transportation, communications, and management innovations.
• Mayer Amschel Rothschild, who arose from an oppressive Jewish ghetto to establish the most powerful bank the world has seen and who ushered in an era of global finance.
• Cyrus Field, who became the father of global communications by leading the effort to build the transatlantic telegraph, the forerunner to global radio, television, and the worldwide Internet.
• Margaret Thatcher, whose controversial policies opened the gusher of substantially free markets that linked economies across borders.
• Andy Grove, a Hungarian refugee from the Nazis who built the company—Intel—that figured out how to manufacture complex computer chips on a mass, commercial scale and laid the foundation for Silicon Valley’s computer revolution.
From Silk to Silicon is an essential book to understanding the past—and the future—of the most powerful global forces of our times.
How people buy things has changed profoundly—yet the fundamental thinking about consumer decision-making and marketing has not. Most marketers still believe that they can shape consumers’ perception and drive their behavior. In this provocative book, Stanford professor Itamar Simonson and bestselling author Emanuel Rosen show why current mantras are losing their relevance. When consumers base their decisions on reviews from other users, easily accessed expert opinions, price comparison apps, and other emerging technologies, everything changes.
Absolute Value answers the pressing questions of how to influence customers in this new age. Simonson and Rosen point out the old-school marketing concepts that need to change and explain how a company should design its communication strategy, market research program, and segmentation strategy in the new environment. Filled with deep analysis, case studies, and cutting-edge research, this forward-looking book provides a totally new way of thinking about marketing.