The Making of Consumer Culture: Britain 1780-1960

The details
Colchester Campus
Postgraduate: Level 7
Monday 13 January 2020
Friday 20 March 2020
29 May 2019


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

Until very recently the social history of consumption was virtually ignored by professional historians. It was only during the 1980s - a decade which witnessed the celebration and deification of the consumer - that this subject began to attract serious scholarly attention. Adopting an interdisciplinary approach and employing a variety of primary as well as secondary source material (film and advertisements as well as written texts) this module explores both the origins and development of the 'consumer society' and also what is meant by that term.

Module aims

The aim of the module is to give the student a better understanding of the changes in the sphere of consumption in Britain between the late eighteenth and the mid twentieth centuries although the experience of other countries (particularly France and the USA) will be used where appropriate for purposes of comparison.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module you should have come to understand various theories of consumption from the mid nineteenth century to the present, particularly the work of Veblen, Marx, Simmel, Benjamin and Baudrillard.

Module information

General Reading List:
Adorno, T. and Hockheimer, M. Dialectics of Enlightenment (1945)
Aglietta, A. A Theory of Capitalist Regulations. The US Experience (1979)
Appadurai, A. (ed.) The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective (1986)

Learning and teaching methods

1 x 2 hour seminar per week


This module does not appear to have any essential texts. To see non-essential items, please refer to the module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework 5,000 Extended Word Essay 29/04/2020 100%

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Professor Peter Gurney
Graduate Administrator, Department of History, Telephone: 01206 872190



External examiner

Dr Paul Corthorn
Queen's University Belfast
Senior Lecturer in Modern British History
Available via Moodle
Of 20 hours, 20 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

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