Purchasing Power: Women and the Rise of Canadian Consumer Culture
Exploring the roots of Canadian consumer culture between the 1890s and the Second World War, Purchasing Power uncovers the meanings that Canadians have attached to consumer goods. Offering a new perspective on the temperance, conservation, home economics, feminist, and co-operative movements of this period, this book brings women’s consumer interests to the fore. Due to their exclusion from formal politics and most paid employment, many Canadian women leveraged their consumer roles into personal and social opportunities. In the consumer sphere, they sought solutions for their isolation, their desire for upward mobility and personal expression, and their families’ survival. Through their purchasing power, Canadian women transformed consumer culture into an arena of political engagement.
- Series: Studies in Gender and History
- World Rights
- Page Count: 304 pages
- Illustrations: 14
- Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.9in x 9.0in
"Drawing on rich archival research, Donica Belisle has written a fascinating consumer history of Canada, focusing on women’s contributions before the Second World War. This well-written study explores the links between citizenship and consumption, detailing the ways that white British practices were normalized as 'Canadian' and the role that women played in the formation of white Canadian nationalism in the early twentieth century."
Vicki Howard, Department of History, University of Essex
"Today, the term 'pro-sumer' denotes 'a consumer who becomes involved with designing or customizing products for their own needs.' This study of women considers the forms of political consumerism in which they engaged and reveals the political values they held."
The Prairie Journal of Canadian Literature
“Many white Canadian women between the 1890s and 1930s deployed notions of consumer taste to solidify their own privilege. This book helps us appreciate why consumption continues to compel so many women now, even in the face of mounting evidence of its destructiveness.”
Tracey Deutsch, Department of History and the Imagine Chair in Arts, Design, and Humanities, University of Minnesota
Author InformationDonica Belisle is an associate professor in the Department of History at the University of Regina.
Table of contents
List of Illustrations
Introduction: Consumer Culture in Historical Perspective
1. Temperance and the Rise of Sober Consumer Culture
2. Shopping for Victory: Consumer Citizenship in Wartime
3. Home Economics and the Training of the Consumer Citizenry
4. Rural Consumer Citizens: Consumption in the Countryside
5. For Whom Do We Dress? Feminism and Fashion
6. Challenging Capitalism? The Limits of Collective Buying
Conclusion: Empowerment and Exclusion: Consumption in Canadian History
Subjects and Courses