Marianne in the Market: Envisioning Consumer Society in Fin-de-Siècle France
In the late nineteenth century, controversy over the social ramifications of the emerging consumer marketplace beset the industrialized nations of the West. In France, various commentators expressed concern that rampant commercialization threatened the republican ideal of civic-mindedness as well as the French reputation for good taste. The female bourgeois consumer was a particularly charged figure because she represented consumption run amok. Critics feared that the marketplace compromised her morality and aesthetic discernment, with dire repercussions for domestic life and public order.
Marianne in the Market traces debates about the woman consumer to examine the complex encounter between the market and the republic in nineteenth-century France. It explores how agents of capitalism—advertisers, department store managers, fashion journalists, self-styled taste experts—addressed fears of consumerism through the forging of an aesthetics of the marketplace: a "marketplace modernism." In so doing, they constructed an image of the bourgeois woman as the solution to the problem of unrestrained, individualized, and irrational consumption. Commercial professionals used taste to civilize the market and to produce consumers who would preserve the French aesthetic patrimony. Tasteful consumption legitimized women’s presence in the urban public and reconciled their roles as consumers with their domestic and civic responsibilities.
A fascinating case study, Marianne in the Market builds on a wide range of sources such as the feminine press, decorating handbooks, exposition reports, advertising materials, novels, and etiquette books. Lisa Tiersten draws on these materials to make the compelling argument that market professionals used the allure of aesthetically informed consumerism to promote new models of the female consumer and the market in keeping with Republican ideals.
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advertising aesthetic Ancien Régime argued aristocratic Art Nouveau artistic Bargny beauty BHVP bibelots Bon Marché bour bourgeois consumer bourgeois women bourgeoisie Catalogues chic civic commercial consumer’s consumption critics culture Daniel Lesueur democratic department store domestic economic elegance Emile Zola Etincelle experts fashion journal fashion magazine Femina feminine femme Figaro-modes fin-de-siècle foyer France France’s Fresson Gender Goût dans l’ameublement Grands Bazars Grands Magasins Henri de Noussane individual interior journal journalist jury international L’Art L’Intérieur late nineteenth century Léon Bourgeois Leora Auslander Les Grands Bazars Louise d’Alq Louise de Salles luxury Madame Magasins Réunis Maison des Magasins maîtresse de maison Marcelle Tinayre Marius Vachon marketplace modernism Mode pratique modern market modernist mondaine moral Octave Uzanne one’s Paquet-Mille Paris Paris-mode Parisian Pierre Giffard political Publicité moderne Rapports du jury recueil republican Revue Roger-Milès role salon shopper siècle social style sumer tapissier taste thetic Third Republic tion woman