Purchasing Power: Women and the Rise of Canadian Consumer Culture
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.
- Series: Studies in Gender and History
- World Rights
- Page Count: 304 pages
- Illustrations: 14
- Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.0in x 9.0in
Author InformationDonica 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
Subjects and Courses