A Consumers' Republic by Lizabeth Cohen
The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America

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In this signal work of history, Bancroft Prize winner and Pulitzer Prize finalist Lizabeth Cohen shows how the pursuit of prosperity after World War II fueled our pervasive consumer mentality and transformed American life.

Trumpeted as a means to promote the general welfare, mass consumption quickly outgrew its economic objectives and became synonymous with patriotism, social equality, and the American Dream. Material goods came to embody the promise of America, and the power of consumers to purchase everything from vacuum cleaners to convertibles gave rise to the power of citizens to purchase political influence and effect social change. Yet despite undeniable successes and unprecedented affluence, mass consumption also fostered economic inequality and the fracturing of society along gender, class, and racial lines. In charting the complex legacy of our “Consumers’ Republic” Lizabeth Cohen has written a bold, encompassing, and profoundly influential book.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About Lizabeth Cohen

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Lizabeth Cohen is Howard Mumford Jones Professor of American Studies in the Department of History at Harvard University. She is the author of Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 1919-1939, which won the Bancroft Prize and the Philip Taft Labor History Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. She has written many articles and essays and is coauthor (with David Kennedy) of The American Pageant. She lives in Belmont, Massachusetts, with her husband and two daughters.
Published December 24, 2008 by Vintage. 576 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, History, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

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But the war and its immediate aftermath gave American consumers an ideology to justify their acquisitive habits, argues Cohen (History/Harvard): Americans of the time “saw their nation as the model for the world of a society committed to mass and what were assumed to be its far-reaching benefits....

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Project MUSE

In the 1980s and 1990s, the consumer ideal explicitly expanded into the political realm as the "consumer/citizen/taxpayer/voter" came to view government policies and political options as simply more consumer choices.

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