207 self-service where consumers were then allowed or rather encouraged to browse freely among the goods. A particularly interesting aspect of all these chapters is their attention to the role of the senses in consumption and retailing. Different sources are used to explore these questions, ranging from shop inventories (Stobart) to technical plans (Toftgaard) and photographs (Linde). Visual display was of course essential – and its signi?icance is the easiest to trace in historical sources – and all these authors discuss the ways in which goods were laid out and presented to consumers. Toftgaard discusses how technical changes in the design of buildings, windows and glass allowed shops to display their goods even when the shop was closed (see also Rykind-Eriksen). This in turn had profound implications for the city, as brightly lit shop windows transformed the use of urban space especially after dark. Window and interior displays also signalled important messages about the status of the shop and the customers that it aspired to serve (Rykind-Eriksen; Linde), though the window display also introduced the possibility of vicarious consumption, or “window-shopping”, for those who could not afford to buy the goods. But at the same time, Toftgaard notes that the increased reliance of visual display, especially when it was behind glass, removed consumers’ reliance on their other senses in experiencing and choosing goods. This is highlighted in Ørnbjerg’s chapter, which discusses the smells of the often exotic goods available in the apothecary. All of this goes a long way to ful?illing the book’s ambition to investigate ‘the production of consumption’, namely; “hvordan forbrug skabes eller konfronteres, men også omvendt, hvordan forbrugspraksisser former identitet, byrum og erhvervsliv.” (p. 12). As ’brick-and-mortar retailing’ becomes increasingly threatened across Europe, challenged by the rise of internet shopping, a historical assessment of these questions seems timely.15 If there is one aspect I am missing from this discussion, however, it is the politics of these changes.16 For consumption has been intensely politicised: a target for control and regulation, and often for con?lict. As Lizabeth Cohen has shown, from the Great Depression and especially after 1945 consumers were expected to play a central role in American economic success, driving the economy through their spending on “essential” items such as white goods and motor cars.17 This also applies to Denmark, albeit in the rather different context of the expanding welfare state and with it rising public spending. Moreover, as Frank Trentmann observes, consumption has always been bound up with moral questions.18 With the rise of “af?luent societies” in Western Europe and North America during the post-war era, political strug15 Stobart and Howard: ’Introduction’, p. 1. 16 See also Strickwerde: ’Too much of a good thing?’. 17 Cohen: A Consumers’ Republic. 18 Trentmann: Empire of Things.
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