Consumer Revolution? Food, Things and Fashion in England 1500-1800: Context (HIH3598)

30 credits

If we are to understand how people lived in the past – how they experienced life and what they valued – it is essential to study patterns of consumption. This means looking at the elements of everyday life: what people ate, lived in, owned, and wore: and why people did what they did. It is often said that modern society is a ‘consumer society’: that we are defined by what we buy rather than our work. Yet people in the past were consumers too, and also constructed their identity through the things they purchased, owned and used. Historians have argued that the early modern period saw the origins of modern consumption in western Europe, sometimes described as a ‘consumer revolution’. This module investigates the changes between 1500 and 1800 in the transition of English society from the medieval to the modern.