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Author

Lizabeth Cohen

Other affiliations: New York University
Bio: Lizabeth Cohen is an academic researcher from Harvard University. The author has contributed to research in topics: New Deal & Great Depression. The author has an hindex of 13, co-authored 19 publications receiving 2535 citations. Previous affiliations of Lizabeth Cohen include New York University.

Papers
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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: A Consumers' Republic (Cohen 2003) is an overview of the political and social impact of mass consumption on the United States from the 1920s to the present day as mentioned in this paper.
Abstract: Historians and social scientists analyzing the contemporary world unfortunately have too little contact and hence miss some of the ways that their interests overlap and the research of one field might benefit another. I am, therefore, extremely grateful that the Journal of Consumer Research has invited me to share with its readers an overview of my recent research on the political and social impact of the flourishing of mass consumption on twentieth-century America. What follows is a summary of my major arguments, enough to entice you, I hope, to read A Consumers' Republic (Cohen 2003), in which I elaborate on these themes. Although this essay is by necessity schematic, the book itself is filled with extensive historical evidence and is heavily illustrated with period images. In tracing the growing importance of mass consumption to the American economy, polity, culture, and social landscape from the 1920s to the present, I in many ways establish the historical context for your research into contemporary consumer behavior and markets. I hope you will …

763 citations

Book
01 Jan 2003
TL;DR: A Consumers' Republic (Cohen 2003) is an overview of the political and social impact of mass consumption on the United States from the 1920s to the present day.
Abstract: Historians and social scientists analyzing the contemporary world unfortunately have too little contact and hence miss some of the ways that their interests overlap and the research of one field might benefit another. I am, therefore, extremely grateful that the Journal of Consumer Research has invited me to share with its readers an overview of my recent research on the political and social impact of the flourishing of mass consumption on twentieth-century America. What follows is a summary of my major arguments, enough to entice you, I hope, to read A Consumers' Republic (Cohen 2003), in which I elaborate on these themes. Although this essay is by necessity schematic, the book itself is filled with extensive historical evidence and is heavily illustrated with period images. In tracing the growing importance of mass consumption to the American economy, polity, culture, and social landscape from the 1920s to the present, I in many ways establish the historical context for your research into contemporary consumer behavior and markets. I hope you will …

742 citations

Book
01 Jan 1990
TL;DR: Workers make a New Deal as discussed by the authors, becoming a union rank and file, encountering mass culture and competing loyalty at the workplace, and finding common ground in workers' common ground Conclusion.
Abstract: Preface Introduction 1. Living and working in Chicago in 1919 2. Ethnicity in the New Era 3. Encountering mass culture 4. Contested loyalty at the workplace 5. Adrift in the Great Depression 6. Workers make a New Deal 7. Becoming a union rank and file 8. Workers' common ground Conclusion.

472 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The most prosperous twelve months ever, capping the country's fourth straight year of economic expansion, were attributable to the American consumer who continued spending as if there were no tomorrow.
Abstract: WHEN THE EDITORS OF TIME MAGAZINE set out to tell readers in an early January 1965 cover story why the American economy had flourished during the previous year, they explained it in terms that had become the conventional wisdom of postwar America. The most prosperous twelve months ever, capping the country's fourth straight year of economic expansion, were attributable to the American consumer, "who continued spending as if there were no tomorrow." According to Time's economics lesson, consumers, business, and government "created a nonvicious circle: spending created more production, production created wealth, wealth created more spending." In this simplified Keynesian model of economic growth, "the consumer is the key to our economy." As R. H. Macy's board chair Jack Straus explained to Time's readers, "When the country has a recession, it suffers not so much from problems of production as from problems of consumption." And in prosperous times like today, "Our economy keeps growing because our ability to consume is endless. The consumer goes on spending regardless of how many possessions he has. The luxuries of today are the necessities of tomorrow." A demand economy built on mass consumption had brought the United States out of the doldrums of the Great Depression and World War II, and its strength in the postwar period continued to impress those like retail magnate Straus whose own financial future depended on it.1 Although Straus and his peers invested great energy and resources in developing new strategies for doing business in this mass-consumption economy, historians

165 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Cohen as mentioned in this paper examines how it was possible and what it meant for ordinary factory workers to become effective unionists and national political participants by the mid-1930s, and follows Chicago workers as they make choices about whether to attend ethnic benefit society meetings or go to the movies, whether to shop in local neighborhood stores or patronize the new A&R.
Abstract: This book examines how it was possible and what it meant for ordinary factory workers to become effective unionists and national political participants by the mid-1930s. Lizabeth Cohen follows Chicago workers as they make choices about whether to attend ethnic benefit society meetings or go to the movies, whether to shop in local neighborhood stores or patronize the new A&R Although workers may not have been political in traditional terms during the Twenties, as they made daily decisions like these, they declared their loyalty in ways that would ultimately have political significance. As the depression worsened in the 1930s, not only did workers find their pay and working hours cut or eliminated, but the survival strategies they had developed during the 1920s were undermined. Looking elsewhere for help, workers adopted new ideological perspectives and overcame longstanding divisions among themselves to mount new kinds of collective action. Chicago workers' experiences as citizens, ethnics and blacks, wage earners and consumers all converged to make them into New Deal Democrats and CIO unionists. First printed in 1990, Making a New Deal has become an established classic in American history. This second edition includes a new preface by the author.

120 citations


Cited by
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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this paper, a synthesizing overview of consumer research addressing the sociocultural, experiential, symbolic, and ideological aspects of consumption is provided, with the aim of providing a viable disciplinary brand for this research tradition that we call consumer culture theory.
Abstract: This article provides a synthesizing overview of the past 20 yr. of consumer research addressing the sociocultural, experiential, symbolic, and ideological aspects of consumption. Our aim is to provide a viable disciplinary brand for this research tradition that we call consumer culture theory (CCT). We propose that CCT has fulfilled recurrent calls for developing a distinctive body of theoretical knowledge about consumption and marketplace behaviors. In developing this argument, we redress three enduring misconceptions about the nature and analytic orientation of CCT. We then assess how CCT has contributed to consumer research by illuminating the cultural dimensions of the consumption cycle and by developing novel theorizations concerning four thematic domains of research interest.

2,926 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: An emergent logic of accumulation in the networked sphere, ‘surveillance capitalism,’ is described and its implications for ‘information civilization’ are considered and a distributed and largely uncontested new expression of power is christened: ‘Big Other.’
Abstract: This article describes an emergent logic of accumulation in the networked sphere, ‘surveillance capitalism,’ and considers its implications for ‘information civilization.’ The institutionalizing practices and operational assumptions of Google Inc. are the primary lens for this analysis as they are rendered in two recent articles authored by Google Chief Economist Hal Varian. Varian asserts four uses that follow from computer-mediated transactions: ‘data extraction and analysis,’ ‘new contractual forms due to better monitoring,’ ‘personalization and customization,’ and ‘continuous experiments.’ An examination of the nature and consequences of these uses sheds light on the implicit logic of surveillance capitalism and the global architecture of computer mediation upon which it depends. This architecture produces a distributed and largely uncontested new expression of power that I christen: ‘Big Other.’ It is constituted by unexpected and often illegible mechanisms of extraction, commodification, and control that effectively exile persons from their own behavior while producing new markets of behavioral prediction and modification. Surveillance capitalism challenges democratic norms and departs in key ways from the centuries-long evolution of market capitalism.

1,624 citations

Book
05 Nov 2011
TL;DR: Carbon Democracy as discussed by the authors argues that no nation escapes the political consequences of our collective dependence on oil, and argues that the oil-based forms of modern democratic politics have become unsustainable, while governments everywhere appear incapable of addressing the crises that threaten to end the age of carbon democracy.
Abstract: Oil is a curse, it is often said, that condemns the countries producing it to an existence defined by war, corruption and enormous inequality. Carbon Democracy tells a more complex story, arguing that no nation escapes the political consequences of our collective dependence on oil. It shapes the body politic both in regions such as the Middle East, which rely upon revenues from oil production, and in the places that have the greatest demand for energy. Timothy Mitchell begins with the history of coal power to tell a radical new story about the rise of democracy. Coal was a source of energy so open to disruption that oligarchies in the West became vulnerable for the first time to mass demands for democracy. In the mid-twentieth century, however, the development of cheap and abundant energy from oil, most notably from the Middle East, offered a means to reduce this vulnerability to democratic pressures. The abundance of oil made it possible for the first time in history to reorganize political life around the management of something now called "the economy" and the promise of its infinite growth. The politics of the West became dependent on an undemocratic Middle East.In the twenty-first century, the oil-based forms of modern democratic politics have become unsustainable. Foreign intervention and military rule are faltering in the Middle East, while governments everywhere appear incapable of addressing the crises that threaten to end the age of carbon democracy - the disappearance of cheap energy and the carbon-fuelled collapse of the ecological order. In making the production of energy the central force shaping the democratic age, Carbon Democracy rethinks the history of energy, the politics of nature, the theory of democracy, and the place of the Middle East in our common world.

1,028 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors argue that rather than declaiming the "radical particularism" of localism, it is more productive to question an "unreflexive localism" and to forge localist alliances that pay attention to equality and social justice.

969 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The civil rights movement circulates through American memory in forms and through channels that are at once powerful, dangerous, and hotly contested as mentioned in this paper. But remembering is always a form of forgetting.
Abstract: The civil rights movement circulates through American memory in forms and through channels that are at once powerful, dangerous, and hotly contested. Civil rights memorials jostle with the South’s ubiquitous monuments to its Confederate past. Exemplary scholarship and documentaries abound, and participants have produced wave after wave of autobiographical accounts, at least two hundred to date. Images of the movement appear and reappear each year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and during Black History Month. Yet remembrance is always a form of forgetting, and the dominant narrative of the civil rights movement—distilled from history and memory, twisted by ideology and political contestation, and embedded in heritage tours, museums, public rituals, textbooks, and various artifacts of mass culture—distorts and suppresses as much as it reveals.1

772 citations