The death of a consumer society

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This paper argues that the meaning of consumer society has changed over the last half century, principally through the prioritisation of choice over access. It does this through an examination of the global consumer movement and a consideration of its successes and failures. It demonstrates that through the movement's own tactics, and the defeats it suffered by opponents of regulation, its earlier emphasis on the right of consumers to enjoy basic needs has given way to a greater focus on choice. Consequently, the changing fortunes of consumer activism around the world both reflect and explain the reorientation of global consumer society over the last few decades.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-236
JournalTransactions of the Royal Historical Society
Early online date1 Dec 2008
Publication statusPublished - 2008