Jon Stobart

in Sugar and Spice

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199577927
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191744884 | DOI:

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The introduction critically reviews the historiography of consumption and how this relates to the grocery trade. It draws out novelty, luxury and utility as key concepts shaping our understanding of eighteenth‐century consumption; evaluates a number of important theories of consumption, including those of Simmel, Veblen, McKendrick, Smith, and de Vries, and outlines the relative neglect of groceries in the historiography of retailing. In tracing these debates, the introduction highlights key themes to be explored in the book: first, the relationship between the grocery trade and British colonialism; second, the changing nature of eighteenth‐century retailing, and particularly the relationship between supply and demand; third, the extent and nature of consumers' engagement with the market and particularly their shopping practices; fourth, the relative usefulness of novelty, luxury and utility as causal factors underpinning consumer choices, and fifth, the relationship between groceries and wider conceptions of consumer change.

Keywords: emulation theory; trickle down; novelty; luxury; utility; consumption bundles; polite consumption; shopping

Chapter.  9038 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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