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Historical Analysis

Historical analysis refers to the methods, time periods, and places that have been used to study consumption in past human societies. Historians have studied consumption in its economic, cultural, and political forms. They use a variety of techniques, both quantitative and qualitative, to investigate changing consumption patterns and practices, and the changing meanings of consumption and “the consumer.” Although Enlightenment histories contained discussions of what is now called consumer behavior, it only emerged as a serious topic of historical research in the nineteenth century. Cultural historian Jacob Burckhardt examined the fashions, eating habits, and festivals of sixteenth-century Italy as a way of revealing important values in Italian culture. In the twentieth century, historians expanded their approach, becoming more systematic and analytical. They also moved forward ...

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