Consumerism In 18th Century Europe

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The general agreement in the historical society on the consumer revolution in the eighteenth century is that it was born from the population increase. Most historians argue that increased consumption of goods and materials was in response to new demands rising from the increasing population of most European countries throughout the century. Hufton is one of the historians that draws a parallel between the buying, selling and manufacturing of luxury goods and the population growth experience in Europe. Hufton argues that the agricultural demands in the 1700s gave birth to new wealth, consumer expenditure, the demand for luxury clothing and a high demand of basic commodities. This demand for basic needs contribute to the rise of textile…show more content…
By analysing the economy and consumption habits of the city of Antwerp (1650-1750), Blonde and Damme reached the conclusion that consumerism in eighteen century Europe is not directly parallel to economic prosperity. In their research they dispute the historian that relate consumerist tendencies to the growth of the economy in Europe during this time frame. They do this by presenting the facts that despite the economic down turn that ninety-three inventories examined from the 1728-1782 show brute change in goods retained and bought. Using these inventories it is easy to interpret the changes toward novelty items that showed the prestige and honour of a family such as increasing purchases of cutlery, porcelain or delftware and silver items. Between fifty-one to eighty-three percent of all households owned cultrly and eight out of ten urban dwellings owned silver, eve more owned imitations of these goods. The inventories used also allowed Blonde and Damme to track the changes in consumer patterns. Consumer patterns changed towards the late 1730s to 1750s where consumers moved from the expensive luxury imports such as silk, pewter and tapestries towards cotton, wallpaper and glass works. The ever changing presence of consumer establishes the fact that a consumer revolution did take place during the…show more content…
In agreement with the research and findings of Coquery, a whole new culture and language developed in reaction to this revolution, much in the same way that the agricultural revolution gave birth to new farming approaches and techniques. Coquery asserts that the growth in consumerism was a phenomenon that affect all levels of society, changing social and economic roles of not only the privileged but the middle classes and lower. Inventories of shops during this time display a wide range of goods such as razors, combs, shoes, watches, earth-ware, books, mirrors, painted textiles and wallpapers imported from the Asian continent. The revolutionary rise in cheaper alternatives to cloths and tableware gave birth to a new system of advertising and shop displays in the streets of Paris. Shopkeepers offered various items and advertised them by referring to their patrons as ‘the amateur, ‘the collector’ or ‘man of taste’ when a certain product caught the eye of a consumer. There flattering terms validated the consumers need to purchase novelty goods and cheap imitation materials from these Parisian shopping district. Not only did the shop keepers develop a way to flatter customers but they began to use print media to advertise their business. The most popular of methods was the use of the almanac. The almanacs publish between 1769 and 1789 contained detailed
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