205 need for subsistence or for traditional display.”5 Stearns asserts that consumerism is a modern phenomenon that arose – for various complex social and cultural reasons – approximately 300 years ago in western Europe. It spread to the rest of the world through the extension of European in?luence to other parts of the world and it is thus intimately bound up with the history of European colonialism and more generally with globalization.6 These processes were never one-sided of course, as new patterns of consumerism and consumption inevitably provoked opposition and resistance.7 But as Frank Trentmann has commented, consumers are also an “elusive category”, one that has been constantly contested and reshaped in relation to other social identities.8 The volume that is under discussion here is concerned with the history of consumption in modern Denmark in the broadest sense, but it focuses on one aspect of that history in particular, namely urban retailing. As the editors write in their introduction, ”byerne [har] spillet en afgørende rolle i forbrugets historie” (p. 12). From the middle ages, cities enjoyed special privileges as spaces of consumption through the regulations on markets and other types of trade. Inevitably, therefore, they were also places were new types of goods could be consumed and displayed, where new fashions and tastes were formed and disseminated. They were also the targets for political protests over consumption, where consumers gathered to protest against high prices, poor quality or the scarcity of essential goods. Changes in retailing and especially the rise of ?ixed-price, ?ixed-place trading in the form of the shop were fundamental to the transformation of towns and cities during the early modern and modern periods, with profound implications for urban planning.9 Certain types of retailing, notably the large department stores found in larger urban centres, have often been identi?ied as being synonymous with modernity and the modern city, but recent research has largely rejected notions of a nineteenth century ‘retail revolution’ found in the older literature.10 Other forms of distribution, such as itinerant peddling, market stalls, second-hand trading, barter and direct exchange also deserve to be studied in historical context alongside modern forms of retailing such as chain stores and supermarkets.11 Nonetheless, it is also true that the twentieth century has seen major changes in the retailing sector, especially food retailing. Victoria de Grazia has identi?ied the Great 5 Stearns: Consumerism in World History, p. ix. 6 Stearns: Consumerism in World History. 7 Hilton: Prosperity for All. 8 Trentmann: ’The Modern Genealogy’. 9 Stobart and Howard: ’Introduction’; Cohen: ‘Is There an Urban History of Consumption?’ 10 See Benson and Ugolini, ‘Introduction’; Stobart and Howard, ‘Introduction’, p. 4. 11 For examples of historical studies of different forms of trading see Wassholm and Sundelin, ‘Småskalig handel’, and other articles in the same themed issue of Historisk Tidskrift för Finland; Lilja and Jonsson: ‘Inadequate supply’.
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