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. In charting the complex legacy of our “Consumers’ Republic” Lizabeth Cohen has written a bold, encompassing, and profoundly influential. Review of Lizabeth Cohen’s A Consumers’ Republic. By politics | Published: August 10, The United States of the twentieth century has often been.

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A creative, provocative and often compelling account. In spite of its inclusive rhetoric, Cohen shows how policies that helped to underwrite the Consumers’ Republic, such as the gi Bill and the tax code, benefited white middle-class males while discriminating against other groups, particularly African-Americans. However, conditions in suggest that American political identities may have been long-dormant but are waking and may be poised to break free from the segmentation after all.

Segmentation of the mass has the same dual effect as suburbanization of residence and commercialization of public space: Project MUSE promotes the creation and dissemination of essential humanities and social science resources through collaboration with libraries, publishers, and scholars worldwide.

Suburbanization is a huge part of Cohen’s argument. Although this is a work of advanced scholarship, it is well within the reach of able high school students and would be a great example of clear, professional historical writing. 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.

Cohen uses an impressive plethora of examples to demonstrate her points, and in the end I know much more about the United States’ economic and social clhen from the 30’s to the present. Not all of this expansion was good, as the suburbs, ocnsumers their local shops and school systems, fostered more division both between races and between ethnic classes. She clearly dislikes suburbs, but she doesn’t let this bias get in the way of her history.

Cohen tracks the formation of a Consumer Republic “an economy, culture, and politics built around the promises of mass consumption, both in terms of material life and the more idealistic goals of greater freedom, democracy, and equality” in the aftermath of WW2, from its antecedents lizwbeth the Depression era citizen consumer, to purchaser as citizen in the aftermath of the war, to the end of the consumer republic, as the roles of consumer and citizen mixed amid economic downturn and attacks on government regulation that begin in the mids.

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Consumption didn’t just serve individual desires; as Keynsianism became the dominant economic philosophy, intellectuals and citizen-consumers alike saw their compulsive buying as not only fun, but patriotic: 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 repuhlic political influence and effect social change.


This is an important book to understand how we got to where we are at this point in time in this country.

Project MUSE – A Consumers’ Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption (review)

Nonetheless, Consumer’s Republic will become essential reading for students of postwar American history. However, it took me about hours over a couple of days and I read slow. Cohen’s work is complete, and thorough, analyzing the United States as a whole as well as using the microcosm of New Jersey to give more specific evidence for her argument.

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It’s been fifteen years since Cohen published A Consumers’ Republic, making so much of her thesis seem old hat. The comp stomp continues. I think Cohen’s best chapter was on suburbanization – the promises it held for middle-class white families, and the legal barriers erected to keep out working-class whites and people of color.

Lizxbeth “don’t shop where you can’t work” campaign won many concessions repunlic black employment in By the ‘s, companies were paying way more attention to the black market, offering specific products and messages.

The answer for the repubpic period of this book 50’s to 70’s seems to be yes. Everybody knows about the postwar culture of mass consumption. Yet it a question whether this shift bodes well condumers ill for our democratic political traditions, our natural environment, or our global future, whether we should be proud of the manifold wealth we have created or instead ashamed of our prodigal capitalist system.

View freely available titles: The politics comes in when the author shows how the targeted advertising of the segmentalized marketplace after the s bled over into the way political parties target certain demographic blocks with different messages to sell their product, the politicians. This relative inattention to political struggles is perhaps the book’s weakness; the book does not provide repuvlic clear sense of why one construction of citizenship replaced another and how exactly those shifts related to protracted debates about American political economy.

Consumerism and citizenship became tightly entwined concepts because consuming was seen as so crucial to keeping the postwar boom going.

Her chapter on consumer cultures and the shifts from mass market to segmented markets, and how producers grab a segment and begin to mold it via producing for it is fascinating. Review of Simone Murray, Mixed Media: The latter figure, the purchaser consumer, represents the interests of business and the lassiez-faire philosophy of deregulated mass consumption leading to trickle down llizabeth for all.


Joshua Walker Addison, it’s been a few months since you asked but I’ll answer nonetheless just in case! Feb 22, Craig Werner rated it really liked it. Interesting take on American history from the ‘s forward that focuses on the role or you could say rule republi the consumer rather than the voter or workerarguing that they became the controlling influence, and sometimes even the controlling power in American society. The incredible amount of research and well thought out and supported thesis’ are worth five stars, but the writing brings it down to four stars.

If you’re not a reader of academic history texts, you’ll probably be bored to tears, ha ha. Excellent analysis of the post-war economy that was fueled by consumerism. But I’d recommend it over Jackson’s Crabgrass Frontier for anyone looking for an introduction to the most important changes in American “lifestyle” from WWII to the s.

Cohen shows that this was consimers always the case—women, African Americans, and low-income consumers were often marginalized, both formally and informally, by a defensive rising middle class, a painfully slow-moving federal government, and private developers and marketers who wanted to maximize profits, which meant marketing to the rising white middle class reaping the recent benefits of the GI Bill.

A Consumers’ Republic

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. In A Consumer’s Republic, author Lizbeth Cohen examines the way the burgeoning consumer market effected political activism. She also notes how successful and positive the consumer advocacy movement has been, especially under Ralph Nader in the ‘s.

Someone less exhausted and more interested in this era would give it a higher rating, but this is the last book after months of reading for comprehensive exams and I was so done with it cohwn through. As I read this I realized donsumers I had already read some of the chapters for various classes on American history namely the ones on suburbia and shopping malls. I can see using excerpts to teach content as well as style.

One of the more interesting parts of the book for me was the detailed discussion of how segregation of African Americans was practiced in Northern suburbs, focusing on New Jersey.

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