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World Exhibitions

  • By: Peter H. Hoffenberg
  • In: Encyclopedia of Consumer Culture
  • Edited by: Dale Southerton
  • Subject:Sociology of Consumption, Consumer Psychology, Consumer Culture

World exhibitions were popular venues for promoting and shaping consumer culture since at least the middle of the nineteenth century. The Great Exhibition in London's Hyde Park in 1851 is generally recognized as the first world exhibition, although it drew on earlier and less ambitious French examples, if not the longer-term history of the traditional bazaar and potlatch. Later world exhibitions were held in major European, North American, Asian, and Latin American cities. Some of those were national capitals, while others were industrial or manufacturing centers. It was not uncommon for capital cities throughout the British Empire, for example, to also host their own bold world's fairs. Well through the 1960s, such shows entertained and educated millions of men, women, and children.

Organizers and exhibitors were ...

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