Andrew Gordon

in Fabricating Consumers

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780520267855
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520950313 | DOI:

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Both the Singer Sewing Machine Company and its product played important roles in propelling America's “irresistible” market empire to its dominant place, not only in Europe but around the globe. In Japan, as elsewhere, the decades around the turn of the twentieth century witnessed the birth of the salesman as a practitioner of science and system. Credit in the form of the weekly or monthly installment loan was another innovation of the market empire pioneered worldwide by Singer and other firms. In Japan, it is believed that the sewing machine affirmed social order and bridged class differences more than it provoked conflict or disorder. The sewing machine entered Japan's world of home-based sewing and dressmaking, but always with a strong emphasis on family machines and home users, and with a broader cultural impact as the desire grew to own this symbol of modernity.

Keywords: Singer Company; Japan; salesman; modernity; credit; social order; dressmaking

Chapter.  4034 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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