Domesticity and Beyond: Gender, Family, and Consumption in Modern Europe

Enrica Asquer

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

Domesticity and Beyond: Gender, Family, and Consumption in Modern Europe


This article discusses the relationship between gender history and the history of the family, especially in the field of consumer studies, and examines works that consider the rise of a ‘modern’ public sphere, structured around mass consumption and potentially more inclusive with respect to women. Reframing Jürgen Habermas's account with a gender-conscious approach and recognizing the power of the discourse in shaping historical processes, some of the studies it considers critically utilize the Habermasian assumption that commercial culture caused a radical transformation of the classic bourgeois public realm. Focusing on the contemporary debate about women shoppers and the challenge they posed to the masculine public sphere, these works explore the tensions between different ‘publics’ that were emerging in the nineteenth century within European societies and the changing ways in which domesticity and motherhood were linked to consumer culture. The article also looks at the politicization of everyday life in twentieth-century Europe.

Keywords: Europe; gender; family; women; public sphere; politicization; everyday life; domesticity; consumption; Jürgen Habermas

Article.  8443 words. 

Subjects: History ; Gender and Sexuality

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