Consumer Revolution in Eighteenth-Century Britain

Consumer revolution in eighteenth-century Britain refers to an explanatory device historians have used to elucidate shifts in production, retail practices, and attitudes toward consumption that produced a “consumer revolution” in Britain at that time.

Explanatory Device

The consumer revolution is a phenomenon of historical interpretation that has some basis in reality, but most historians now agree that its significance has been highly exaggerated. The concept of the consumer revolution came about because of failed explanations for the older debate about why the Industrial Revolution came to Britain first; the idea of consumer demand became a key explanation for the advent of the Industrial Revolution. The seminal work that identified a revolution in consumption practices originating in the eighteenth century is The Birth of a Consumer Society: The ...

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