Counter Cultures: Saleswomen, Managers, and Customers in American Department Stores, 1890-1940

Front Cover
University of Illinois Press, 1986 - Business & Economics - 322 pages
The luxurious appearance and
handsome profits of American department stores from 1890 to 1940 masked
a three-way struggle among saleswomen, managers, and customers for control
of the selling floor. Counter Cultures explores the complex nature
and contradictions of the conflict in an arena where class, gender, and
the emerging culture of consumption all came together.
"Counter Cultures
is a path-breaking and imaginative social history. Benson has made an
original and sophisticated contribution to the study of the work process
in the service sector."
-- Journal of American History
"Counter Cultures
advances our understanding of the history of women and work, and it does
so in an engaging way that should command the attention not only of historians
but of a general readership as well."
-- Women's Review of Books
 

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Contents

The New Kind of Store 185090
12
A Homogeneous Business Organizing the Department Store
31
Managing DepartmentStore Space
38
Taming the Buyer through Functional Organization
48
Blueprints for Buying
62
An Adamless Eden Managing DepartmentStore Customers
75
The Lure of Service
82
The Perils of Service
91
The Individual Career
189
Range and Hierarchy
190
Hidden Costs and Hidden Benefits
193
Short Weekdays Long Saturdays and Unpaid Overtime
196
Age and DepartmentStore Women
200
Marital Status
203
Home Life Ethnicity and Race
206
The Subjective the Exceptional and the Fictional
210

The Powers of Persuasion
101
Made Not Born From the Shopgirl to the Skilled Saleswoman
124
Class Gender and Selling
128
Pressures from Within and Without
131
Welfare Work
142
The Varieties and Scope of Training Programs
147
The Contradictions in Training
153
Incentives for Skilled Selling
159
The Cinderella of Occupations DepartmentStore Saleswomen and the World of Womens Work
177
Snapshots
182
Department Stores TwoTrack System
184
Earnings Employment and Economic Crisis
187
The Clerking Sisterhood Saleswomens Work Culture
227
The Ethics of Class and Consumption
231
Work Culture in the Department
240
Work Culture Manages the Managers
253
Our Friend the Enemy
258
WomenWorkersConsumers
265
Conclusion
283
Appendixes
297
Bibliographic Essay
313
Index
317
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