Socialist Political Economy and the Growth of Mass Consumption, 1880–1914

Noel Thompson

in Social Opulence and Private Restraint

Published in print August 2015 | ISBN: 9780199646012
Published online August 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780191778490 | DOI:
Socialist Political Economy and the Growth of Mass Consumption, 1880–1914

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)
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The chapter considers the conceptualization of the consumer and consumption in the socialist economic literature of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. The birth of modern socialism coincided with the emergence of a society characterized by growing affluence and consumer power. This chapter discusses the nature of the ideological challenges which that presented for socialist writers and the manner in which they responded to these. In particular the chapter considers their often critical view of the character of working-class desires, their concern to emphasize that a socialist transformation of society involved more than the more equitable distribution of a material abundance, the importance of consumption as recreation, their discussion of the extent to which desire would need to be educated and the importance of conceiving of consumption in social as well as individual terms.

Keywords: socialism; abundance; desire; consumer; social consumption; rational recreation

Chapter.  17276 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945) ; Political History

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