How are subcultures and micro-cultures the same? How are they different? Give some examples of a micro-culture within a micro-culture cited in the readings. Subcultures refer to a whole way of life culture found within a larger society. Microcultures are similar to subcultures in that they exist inside larger, complex societies. Microcultures, unlike subcultures, do not define a whole way of life and can be found inside other microcultures. They surround us in everyday life but do not consume every hour of their members’ time (e.g., work, rec. groups, sports teams). An example of a microculture within a microculture cited in the reading is bank culture. There is a bank culture that everyone who works there shares. Then there are groups of bank employees who form subgroups with their own microcultures. There is the teller culture, guard culture, and personal banker culture. They all differ because each employee group has its own goals, requirements, and problems; however, they are still part of the bank’s microculture.
What are the inherent problems in using an “informant” that you already know—one that is “cold turkey” and one that was obtained through a go-between? 1) You will be limited to studying only the microcultures your acquaintances participate in and you will forgo a typical ethnographic experience, entering a cultural setting as a total stranger. Also, when your informants are your friends, it is sometimes difficult to change your roles as friends to the roles of ethnographer and cultural informant. 2) This direct approach is the most difficult to do because it can lead to many rejections, take the most time, and cause you the most anxiety since it is stressful to approach total strangers. You have to keep your options open and have a backup microculture in case your first try proves unfeasible. 3) A go-between may outrank an informant in the microculture they share. Such go-betweens may censor what informants say or inhibit their responses in other ways. An example is a teacher and her students.
How did early car culture change the population’s concept of the outdoors?
People now were able to experience a new independence that granted them modern mobility. The outdoors offered an escape from urban anxieties, a journey back in time to more “primitive” lifestyles that promised to restore a sense of self-control, diminished by modern corporate life. They viewed the outdoors as a place of self-renewal and self-realization. Motorists felt a close connection to nature and were outdoors more than they were in the past.
Although most early writers believed that car culture would make the country more cohesive, what early negative issues did they cite? - Flivverists – pestilent presence of auto tramps, itinerant laborers, and migrant families that “swarmed” the auto camps
When and how did automobile ownership become possible for immigrants and the non-white population? Why was automobile ownership so important to members of these groups?
By the middle of the 1920s, as car prices dropped, a secondhand market flourished, and installment buying became more common, car owners represented a wider cross-section of the urban and rural population.
Buying a car proudly defied racial and class assumptions about who should have a car. The automobile became a means of distancing oneself from the corporate menace and asserting independence. People were able to avoid segregation in places such as railroad cars. It also had come to symbolize an autonomy otherwise lacking in many people’s lives.
Be able to briefly discuss how advertising changed as a result of the newly emergent car culture, and explain how print and outdoor advertising shared common goals.
The car had expanded the stock and trade of the outdoor advertising industry. By locating their audience as any mobile population, billboard advertisers claimed they addressed everyone equally. Outdoor advertisers were training people to discard their class and regional distinctions in favor of the mobility, domesticated privacy, and individualism promised by mass consumption.
Outdoor advertisers shared with print advertisers a quest to associate the products publicized with class ascension and modernity.
Discuss the evolution of domestic Tourism associated with early car culture and cite several industries, goods and services tied to this newly emergent phenomenon.
Tourism helped create identities for regions. Billboards served both as local booster and directional sign, mapping the way to nearby scenic and industrial attractions. Tourism itself was a means by which drivers could be made into consumers and the landscape into consumable merchandise. Automobile travel promised to provide a variety of experiences. It represented the possibility of escape to a pastoral idyll. Service stations
Did early “outdoor-oriented” consumers differ from “indoor-oriented” consumers? Discuss several types of goods and services promoted by early billboards. How was “poster art” a significant component of early outdoor advertising?
Discuss N.C. Wyeth’s contributions to early advertising (look this up) and explain why he was an important figure in the history of the Philadelphia region.
Famed illustrator and painter
How did retailers capture the purchasing power of “new suburbanites?”
They reached out to suburbanites where they lived; building stores along the new highways in commercial “strips” that consumers could easily reach by car. By the mid-1950s, they began constructing regional shopping centers, which aimed to satisfy consumption and community needs.
“Shopping towns” were meant to overcome many negatives associated with urban shopping. Discuss. Describe the “aesthetics” of these new shopping towns.
Traffic congestion, parking problems, safety issues, unwanted groups, accessibly, and short supply of developable space were problems in urban areas. New shopping centers, accessible by car, offered a lot of parking space and had idealized appearances. They provided a centrally located public space, often indoors, that brought together civil and commercial activity. Stores and services were abundant and more accessible.
Discuss the shift in the color/racial composition of most major American cities between 1950 and 1960.
Most large cities lost population between 1950 and 1960. While all metropolitan areas grew, three whites were moving out for every two non-whites who moved in, laying the groundwork for the racially polarized metropolitan populations of today. There was also a huge wave of African-American migration from the South to the North during the 1950s.
Research conducted by consumer surveys between 1950 and 1960 elicited several important goals and objectives for developers and retailers. Discuss.
Store selection, merchandise, prices, and carefully controlled access to suburban shopping centers supported the class and color line. Consumer surveys revealed that low-income families typically did not own cars, while the majority of shoppers were driving cars. Bus routes were also planned to serve non-driving costumers, particularly women, from neighboring suburbs; however, they did not serve low-income consumers from cities. Shopping centers applied market segmentation on the scale of a downtown.
How and why were shopping centers designed with the female consumer in mind?
As women were increasingly driving their own cars, they found wider parking spaces at the shopping center, designed to accommodate the new drivers. Shopping centers provided comfort, safety, and planned activities geared toward women and children. Women have been the major shoppers in their families for centuries. Shopping centers sought to empower them as orchestrators of their families’ leisure.
Discuss four pivotal early shopping centers in reference to their location/placement, target customer, retail establishments, access to transportation and/or roads, and socio-economic profile of the neighboring population. Bergen Mall – marketed to the lower middle class
Garden State Plaza – catered to middle-income groups
All had department stores as anchors, specialty stores, services
Discuss critical mid-century highways built in NJ during the post war era. Garden State Parkway
Discuss three department stores integral to the early shopping center experience. 1) J.C. Penney: began building stores in shopping centers rather than in cities; broadened their lines of merchandise and service to encompass a fuller spectrum of family activity 2) Macy’s
3) Bloomingdale’s – didn’t like labor unions
What were some of the economic fears following WWII and what steps were taken to avoid them?
People were afraid a recession/depression would happen after WWII, just as it did after WWI. Mass consumption was encouraged and viewed as a civic responsibility designed to provide full employment and improved living standards for the rest of the nation. The Employment Act of 1946 defined the federal government’s responsibility as promoting maximum employment production, and purchasing power. The GI Bill of Rights and government support for housing and highway construction contributed to the postwar economy.
Various groups held differing opinions of how government should intervene in the postwar period. Explain
Conservatives were opposed to price controls and liberal capitalists were open to business-government cooperation, wage hikes, and full employment.
When and how did the notion “thrift is un-American” become prevalent?
There was a postwar ideal of the purchaser as citizen who simultaneously fulfilled personal desire and civic obligation by consuming. By the 1960s, the idea that “thrift was now un-American” was prevalent.
Explain in detail how the economy changed during the quarter century of great (postwar) prosperity.
During the quarter century of great prosperity from 1949 to 1973, median and mean family income doubled. National output of goods and services doubled, with private consumption expenditures holding steady. There were several recessions, but they were always followed by recoveries that each time lifted Americans’ wage scales and living standards a little higher.
Discuss how the notion of “credit” evolved between 1950 and 1960.
The explosion of consumer credit and borrowing kept the postwar mass consumption economy afloat. The value of total consumer credit grew almost elevenfold between 1945 and 1960, and installment credit jumped nineteenfold. Instead of saving for years to afford major purchases, customers could now buy on credit and enjoy the goods while they paid for them. The development of third-party universal credit cards also contributed to the explosion of consumer credit.
How did President Truman characterize American life and prosperity during the 1950s? What image was his depiction designed to counteract”
Truman stated that the nation had grown enormously in material well-being and the income of the average family has increased greatly. As a result, their buying power has doubled. His depiction was designed to counteract the image of despotism - concentrated wealth.
Discuss the subject matter of the 1954 documentary “Destination Earth.”
The film suggested how the link between freedom and mass consumer affluence provided a strategy for recruiting developing countries into the American sphere of influence.
Discuss several early consumer protection organizations.
NAC – lobby on behalf of consumers for long sought goals
Discuss the emergence of the term “homemaker.”
The term “homemaker” emerged after the war as female consumers withdrew from the civic arena. They were very quickly less identified as public-minded citizens than during the war.
The chapter is entitled “reconversion” because?
The character of the postwar political economy and the nature of social relations within a world being reconstructed after the disruptions of the war were being reconverted. As the Consumers’ Republic evolved, it brought with it new “rules of the game” that redefined gender, class, and racial norms.
How did the GI bill dramatically alter the status of postwar women? Did the bill have any impact on female veterans? Citing specific details, discuss the connection between the GI bill and homeownership in general.
The government disproportionately gave men access to career training, property ownership, capital, and credit, as well as control over family finances. The GI Bill provided veterans with loans to purchase home or farms. Female veterans took much less advantage of GI benefits because of inequalities, ambiguities, and discriminatory policies. The Bill also helped ensure that veterans had an educational edge over non-veterans and women.
What is a HERS card? When and how did women begin to regain social and economic power within the household structure?
Credit cards always bore the husband’s name, but they gave special pink HERS cards to wives. A study in 1958 revealed that although men still dominated car selection, women often took the lead in appliances and couples made many purchasing decisions together.
Were early game shows and sitcoms connected to modern consumption? Explain.
Families were symbolically reminded of “the key man” every day when they heard male announcers speak with authority about the design and value of consumer goods on TV quiz shows. Popular sitcoms conveyed norms through ideals.
How did unions support “The Consumer’s Republic”?
Desired to expand works’ purchasing power
Drew attention to workers as consumers with material desires and ambitions. Implemented programs such as credit unions and consumer counseling clinics Called on the government to aid their consuming rank and file Endorsed gender prescriptions and the “family wage”
Discuss the research findings of sociologists Chinoy and Berger. (1950s)
Consumption was not always an escape from work that “tamed” American workers. Workers displayed a distinctive constellation of values and choices that differed from middle-class ones. They enjoyed a decent standard of living and could even purchase homes.
Securing a high degree of purchasing power for workers in the post-war period focused on what economic strategies?
Buying power became an obsession and companies launched buying campaigns to pressure local stores to carry their products. They advocated that workers should be able to buy the products they were making. This meant workers needed to be paid enough to support their family and buy consumer products.
According to Katona and Mueller, “consumer demand” is defined as what?
Name several early credit cards issued during the post-war era.
Explain what the author means by the expression the “culture of capitalism.” When did it first appear?
The culture of capitalism included sets of relations between capitalists, laborers, and consumers, each depending on the other, yet each placing demands on, and often conflicting with, the others. The nation-state serves as a mediator. Its emergence has left little in our lives untouched and “feeding” the consumer has required a new level of global integration; it also conceals the problems that result from its maintenance and spread.
It first appeared around the end of the 19th century.
Was there a difference in late 19th century “marketing” attempts and early 20th century “marketing” attempts?
Retailers paid little attention to how goods were displayed. Most products were displayed in bulk and little care was taken to arrange them in any special way. Advertising was looked down on.
By the 20th century, the emergence of the department store lead retailers to pay more attention to how products were presented to the public. Stores designed displays that were intended to present goods in ways that inspired people to buy them. Advertising also developed and became regular a part of the American life. National adverting campaigns were starting and celebrities were endorsing their favorite commodities.
How and why is the concept of “fashion” important to early modern consumption?
Fashion pressured people to buy not out of need but for style – from a desire to conform to what others defined as “fashionable.” The garment industry was the biggest growing industry in the early 1900s. Fashion standards were set and defined what the socially conscious woman should wear.
Discuss various models of “institutional” change that occurred during the early part of the 20th century. Did this institutional change involve museums?
Educational and cultural institutions, government agencies, financial institutions, and even the family itself changed their meaning and function to promote the consumption of commodities. Universities began to offer business and arts-in industry programs. State agencies began to concern themselves with the consumption end of the business cycle. The Commerce Department promoted maximum consumption.
Museums also changed and began to make alliances with business. Businesspeople and designers were urged to visit the museums and special exhibits were constructed.
When and why did children first become targets and/or objects of consumption? Cite some specific efforts aimed at appealing to the child as a consumer.
They became targets at the beginning of the 20th century. Retailers realized if they cultivated consumers as kids, they would have them as customers for a lifetime. Laws making child labor illegal signaled a transformation of children from workers to consumers. America became the greatest producer of toys and playthings in the world. Retail establishments produced their own radio programs for children and put on elaborate shows. Christmas symbolized the reconstruction of childhood.
EPCOT Center, Disney World, and Williamsburg are all examples of history reworked and rewritten. Explain.
History is everywhere at the establishments, appropriated, like childhood, in the service of their messages. The history is highly idealized and there is a conscious attempt to present the history of capitalism without the negative components. They are telling history, as it should have been rather than how it really was. All three places justify problems in the past and reject responsibility for them, especially from corporate and capitalists. The process of insulating the consumer from truths that might reduce consumption is built into the culture of capitalism; denial is as much a part of it as is consumption.