Luxury, the Luxury Trades, and the Roots of Industrial Growth: A Global Perspective

Maxine Berg

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Consumption

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199561216
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

Luxury, the Luxury Trades, and the Roots of Industrial Growth: A Global Perspective


Luxury and its discontents have become key areas of debate on our social condition in the late twentieth and early years of the twenty-first century. Luxury has become the common parlance of advertising and branding. It is part of the upscaling of consumer aspirations, and a turning away from the mass consumerism that underpinned consumer society from the 1960s to the 1980s. Aspirations are associated with luxury and designer goods, with lifestyle choices of affluence and distinction. Manufacturers give nearly every category of good they produce a premium brand; their products signal distinction and the pursuit of status. This phenomenon of upscaling, branding, and status-seeking through consumer goods has intensified dramatically since the 1980s, but it has also been with us a very long time. This article presents a global perspective on luxury, the luxury trades, and the roots of industrial growth. It examines luxury and consumption in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, social science theory and luxury, luxury's historical context, the debates over luxury goods, luxury and the global economy, and global export ware.

Keywords: luxury; luxury trades; luxury goods; industrial growth; consumption; social science theory; global economy; export ware; branding; status

Article.  9427 words. 

Subjects: History ; Industrial History

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