Material Nation: A Consumer's History of Modern Italy

Material Nation: A Consumer's History of Modern Italy

by Emanuela Scarpellini


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In this fresh, unfamiliar, and sometimes surprising picture of modern Italy, history is refracted through the prism of the nation's consumer culture.

What were Italians eating and drinking over this period? Where did they live? What did they do in their leisure time? What did they choose to spend their spare money on? And how did this differ between different economic classes and over time? From the battle against poverty conducted by the first liberal governments of a united Italy, to fascist autarchy, up to the emergence of welfare policies and today's multifaceted society, Scarpellini looks at how the material culture associated with consumption has structured Italian life and defined the boundaries of class, gender, generations, and regional differences, inspiring government policies, and influencing the worlds of art and literature.

Keeping a constant eye on wider historical trends, both in Italy and internationally, the book looks at how the basic triad of consumer culture (food, housing, and clothing) slowly developed into a more complex pattern, incorporating transport, domestic appliances, and then electronics, communications, and fashion.

Combining economic and cultural history with a vivid narrative style, this book is essential reading for anyone interested in the history of modern Italy and of consumption more generally in the last century and a half.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780199589579
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 05/26/2011
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Emanuela Scarpellini is Professor of Modern History at the University of Milan. She was a visiting scholar at Stanford University and Cambridge University, and has also been a Visiting Professor at both Stanford and Georgetown universities.

Table of Contents

Part I: Liberal Italy
1. Italian Society from Unification to the Belle Epoque
2. The State and Public Consumption
3. The World of Production
4. Commercial Spaces
Part II: Fascism
5. The Regime
6. Daily Life Under Fascism
Part III: The Economic Miracle
7. Society During the Golden Age of Capitalism
8. Politics, Culture, and Welfare State
9. Advertising and Production
10. Large-scale Distribution and 'American' Supermarkets
Part IV: The Affluent Society
11. Impact of the Consumer Society
12. Everyday Life Today

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