The birth of a mass consumer society in western Europe has been the subject of much scholarly debate in recent years. In order to come to a further understanding of the issue, this book adopts an analytical approach, paying special attention to the socio-cultural and economic transfers which occur when different commodities are introduced to territories with diverse values and identities. In particular, it examines the role of merchants and their important influence on consumer decisions, describing how they created demand for new necessities in local, national and international markets of the western Mediterranean area. Through a systematic analysis of probate inventories from southern Spain, the study reveals shifts in the patterns of consumption of new goods in urban and rural families, underlining a growing interest in new, exotic and foreign goods. By connecting these local desires, aspirations and choices to a global movement in which human and material capital circulated trans-continentally, broader patterns of consumption are revealed. By observing a southern European society, such as Spain, where the industrialization process was slower than that in Anglo-Saxon territories, the book contributes to the on-going debates about 'industrious revolution' and 'trickle-down' theories and whether both occurred simultaneously or separately. The book also helps identify the socio-economic forces and agents that prompted the stimulus for new consumer aspirations, as well as the cultural consequences that the new modern consumerism brought about.
Contents: Preface; Introduction; Part I The History of Consumption: Debates, Theories, Methods, Sources and Data Bases: Studies on consumption and material culture to date; Sources and methodology. Part II Consumption and Stereotypes in 18th-Century Mediterranean Europe: the Case of South-Eastern Spain: Socio-political rules and fashions: the intervention of the state; The development of global models: transforming dress as a means to control consumption. Part III French Traders and Western Mediterranean Commerce in a Global Context (1730-1808): The Roux-Freres Company, French trade networks and the Spanish Mediterranean import-export market; The circulation of trans-national goods from Marseille to Spain. Part IV Examining the 'Consumer' and 'Industrious' Revolution in South-Eastern Spain: the Kingdom of Murcia (1730-1808): Consumer behaviour in South-Eastern Spain: channels of diffusion, household economy and fashions; The trans-cultural circulation of new fashions in urban and rural spaces. Part V General Conclusions. Appendices; Glossary; Bibliography; Index.