The term 'consumption' covers the desire for goods and services, their acquisition, use, and disposal. The study of consumption has grown ermously in recent years, and it has been the subject of major historiographical debates: did the eighteenth century bring a consumer revolution? Was there a great divergence between East and West? Did the twentieth century see the triumph of global consumerism? Questions of consumption have become defining topics in all branches of history, from gender and labour history to political history and cultural studies. The Oxford Handbook of the History of Consumption offers a timely overview of how our understanding of consumption in history has changed in the last generation, taking the reader from the ancient period to the twenty-first century. It includes chapters on Asia, Europe, Africa, and North America, brings together new perspectives, highlights cutting-edge areas of research, and offers a guide through the main historiographical developments. Contributions from leading historians examine the spaces of consumption, consumer politics, luxury and waste, nationalism and empire, the body, well-being, youth cultures, and fashion. The Handbook also showcases the different ways in which recent historians have approached the subject, from cultural and ecomic history to political history and techlogy studies, including areas where multidisciplinary approaches have been especially fruitful.
Frank Trentmann is Professor of History at Birkbeck College, University of London, and Professor of History and Social Sciences at the Sustainable Consumption Institute, University of Manchester.