Consumer Behaviour and Material Culture in Britain, 1660-1760

Consumer Behaviour and Material Culture in Britain, 1660-1760

Consumer Behaviour and Material Culture in Britain, 1660-1760

Consumer Behaviour and Material Culture in Britain, 1660-1760

Synopsis

This is a detailed study of the material lives of the middle classes in the pre-industrial era, a period which saw considerable growth in consumption. Lorna Weatherill has brought her highly important survey up-to-date in the light of new research. She provides a new introduction and bibliography, taking account of the latest academic writing and methodological advances, including computing, and offers further conclusions about her work and its place in current literature.Three main types of documentation are used to construct the overall picture: diaries, household accounts, and probate inventories. In investigating these sources she interprets the social meaning of material goods; and then goes on to relate this evidence to the social structures of Britain by wealth, status and locality.Breaking new ground in focusing on households and the use of probate inventories, Weatherill has provided a book which gives both a general account of the domestic environment of the period, and a scholarly analysis of the data on consumption patterns.

Excerpt

The research upon which this book was based was undertaken as a project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council from 1981 to 1985, with the title ‘Consumer behaviour and material culture in Britain 1660-1760’. I am ever grateful to the Economic Affairs Committee for making it possible for me to undertake the work and travel. The research was done in many libraries and record offices, and I thank all the librarians and archivists who helped me to find what I needed; without them research would be impossible. The University of St Andrews generously gave me the facilities to work and to meet other scholars, and I am particularly grateful to have used St John’s House Centre for Advanced Historical Studies.

I have also been helped by many people in practical, intellectual, and personal ways. Without Angie Lamb the computing would have been done in a very clumsy way. Pene Corfield and Peter Earle contributed insights into social structures and wealth. Without Mark Overton my appreciation of inventories and of geographical regions would have been much less, and I have enjoyed my conversations with him. Many other people have talked to me about this or that aspect of the subject, or encouraged me in one way or another. Among them are John Hatcher, John Chartres, Helen Irwin, Roger Mason, John Styles, Pat Hudson, Kay Young, Sarah Bankes, Marine Berg, Tony Upton, David Gascoigne, Judith George, and Geoffrey Parker. Catherine King showed me the pitfalls of interpreting apparently realistic pictures, and without her I would never have unearthed so many. Without Keith Wrightson this would have been a much less

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