Consumption is a central feature of the contemporary era, yet the relationship among society, culture, and consumption has a long history that this book describes with wide-ranging references to chronology and geography and with special emphasis on cultural, economic, and political implications of the growth of consumerism. The text addresses, first of all, the global dimension of consumption through Asiatic and Atlantic commerce in the 17th and 18th centuries, discusses the effects of the diffusion of new consumer goods among increasingly broader social strata, and examines the bourgeoisie's and the working class's consumer cultures up to the end of the 19th century. The final chapter is devoted the city, the theatre of new forms of consumption and commercial distribution. The author has created a comprehensive historical account that ranges from the mid-17th century to World War I, thus placing European experience within a framework that includes early colonial conquests and the emergence of a world economy.
Paolo Capuzzo teaches Contemporary History at the University of Bologna.