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The Politics of Mass Consumption: Balancing Public and Private Consumption in Postwar West Germany and the United States

Jan L. Logemann

in Trams or Tailfins?

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780226491493
Published online September 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226491523 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226491523.003.0002
The Politics of Mass Consumption: Balancing Public and Private Consumption in Postwar West Germany and the United States

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This chapter discusses the distinct paths taken by consumer policy in West Germany and the United States. The Marshall Plan, while certainly instrumental for the speedy recovery of West Germany's economy, was not as effective in transplanting the American model of mass consumption as is often assumed. Rather than an “Americanization” of postwar West Germany, a series of contrasts emerges when we take a comparative look at three major areas: the overall importance of private consumption and purchasing power to social and economic policy; the regulation of consumer markets; and the degree of public consumption through direct and indirect social spending, as well as the provisioning of public goods as an alternative to the consumer marketplace. In tracing these contrasts, the author draws on a diverse array of primary and secondary sources, including trade journals and specialized publications by contemporary economists, sociologists, urban planners, and professionals in retailing and public administration.

Keywords: consumer policy; West Germany; United States; Marshall Plan; mass consumption; Americanization; purchasing power; consumer markets; social spending

Chapter.  14582 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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