Purchasing Power: Women and the Rise of Canadian Consumer Culture

By Donica Belisle

© 2019

Exploring the roots of Canadian consumer culture, this book uncovers the meanings that Canadians have historically attached to consumer goods. Focusing on white women during the early twentieth century, it reveals that for thousands of Canadians between the 1890s and World War II, consumption was about not only survival, but also civic expression.

Offering a new perspective on the temperance, conservation, home economics, feminist, and co-operative movements, this book brings white women’s consumer interests to the fore. Due to their exclusion from formal politics and paid employment, many white Canadian women turned their consumer roles into personal and social opportunities. They sought solutions in the consumer sphere to isolation, upward mobility, personal expression, and family survival. They effectively transformed consumer culture into an arena of political engagement.

Yet if white Canadian women viewed consumption as a tool of empowerment, so did they wield consumption as a tool of exclusion. As Purchasing Power reveals, Canadian women of privileged race and class status tended to disparage racialized and lower income women’s consumer habits. In so doing, they constructed hierarchical notions of taste that defined who – and who did not – belong in the modern Canadian nation.

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Product Details

  • Series: Studies in Gender and History
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 304 pages
  • Illustrations: 14
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.0in x 9.0in
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SKU# SP004294

  • AVAILABLE NOV 2019

    From: $22.46

    Regular Price: $29.95

    ISBN 9781442629110
  • AVAILABLE NOV 2019

    From: $63.75

    Regular Price: $85.00

    ISBN 9781442631137
  • AVAILABLE NOV 2019

    From: $22.46

    Regular Price: $29.95

Quick Overview

Why do Canadians consume? This book explores the meanings of consumption in early-twentieth-century Canada, demonstrating that many Canadians have long viewed consumer goods as central to their visions of belonging, identity, and citizenship.

Purchasing Power: Women and the Rise of Canadian Consumer Culture

By Donica Belisle

© 2019

Exploring the roots of Canadian consumer culture, this book uncovers the meanings that Canadians have historically attached to consumer goods. Focusing on white women during the early twentieth century, it reveals that for thousands of Canadians between the 1890s and World War II, consumption was about not only survival, but also civic expression.

Offering a new perspective on the temperance, conservation, home economics, feminist, and co-operative movements, this book brings white women’s consumer interests to the fore. Due to their exclusion from formal politics and paid employment, many white Canadian women turned their consumer roles into personal and social opportunities. They sought solutions in the consumer sphere to isolation, upward mobility, personal expression, and family survival. They effectively transformed consumer culture into an arena of political engagement.

Yet if white Canadian women viewed consumption as a tool of empowerment, so did they wield consumption as a tool of exclusion. As Purchasing Power reveals, Canadian women of privileged race and class status tended to disparage racialized and lower income women’s consumer habits. In so doing, they constructed hierarchical notions of taste that defined who – and who did not – belong in the modern Canadian nation.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: Studies in Gender and History
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 304 pages
  • Illustrations: 14
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.0in x 9.0in
  • Author Information

    Donica Belisle is an associate professor in the Department of History at the University of Regina.
  • Table of contents

    List of Figures

    Introduction: Canadian Consumer Culture in Historical Perspective 

    1. More Money for Mother: Temperance and the Rise of Sober Consumer Culture 
    2. Shopping for Victory: Consumer Citizenship during the Great War
    3. Training the Consumer Citizenry: Postsecondary Home Economics Curricula
    4. Rural Consumer Citizens: Consumption in the Canadian Women’s Institutes
    5. For Whom Do We Dress? Fashion in the Early-Twentieth-Century Women’s Press
    6. Challenging Capitalism? Co-ops, Housewives’ Leagues, and the Limits of Collective Buying 

    Conclusion: Empowerment and Exclusion: The Meanings of Consumption in the Early Twentieth Century

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