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Consumer Behavior and International Trade in the Western Mediterranean: South-Eastern Spain in a Trans-National Perspective (1730-1808)

Dates:
  • Fri 24 Jun 2011 17.00 - 20.00
  Add to Calendar 2011-06-24 17:00 2011-06-24 20:00 Europe/Paris Consumer Behavior and International Trade in the Western Mediterranean: South-Eastern Spain in a Trans-National Perspective (1730-1808)

How to focus the analysis of the birth of mass consumption society has been a scholarly obsession over the last few decades. This thesis suggests that an analytical approach must be taken in studies on consumption paying special attention to the socio-cultural and economic transfers which occur when different commodities are introduced to territories with diverse socio-cultural values and identities. Therefore one of the key questions of such an analysis is to examine the role of merchants, who have a very important influence on consumer decisions. This thesis describes the new necessities created by merchants, as “vicarious consumers”, inserted in local, national and international market circuits in the Western Mediterranean area. The increase in the consumption of new goods during the eighteenth century in south-eastern Spain, especially during the second half of the century, entailed changes in household economies through some improvements in everyday life. The systematic analysis of probate inventories demonstrates potential shifts in the consumption of new durable and semi-durable goods in urban and rural families. Certainly, in south-eastern Spain, there was an interest in consuming new, exotic and foreign goods.
The desires, aspirations and choices of individuals are demonstrated to have been inspired by a global movement, in which human and material capital circulated trans-continentally, shifting the patterns of consumption of societies - whose values and traditions were challenged by the acquisition of new material goods. I will not simply analyse those relevant theories applied to material culture studies related to Occidental or Oriental societies, such as the “industrious revolution” or “trickle-down” approaches (which have been applied mostly in developed economies to explain stages prior to the Industrial Revolution process). Instead, by observing a southern European society, such as Spain, where the industrialization process was slower than that in Anglo-Saxon territories, we may determine whether both theories occurred simultaneously or separately; identify what the socio-economic forces and agents that prompted the stimulus for new consumer aspirations were; and understand the cultural consequences that the new modern consumerism brought about.

Sala Triaria, Villa Schifanoia - SCHIFANOIA DD/MM/YYYY
  Sala Triaria, Villa Schifanoia - SCHIFANOIA

How to focus the analysis of the birth of mass consumption society has been a scholarly obsession over the last few decades. This thesis suggests that an analytical approach must be taken in studies on consumption paying special attention to the socio-cultural and economic transfers which occur when different commodities are introduced to territories with diverse socio-cultural values and identities. Therefore one of the key questions of such an analysis is to examine the role of merchants, who have a very important influence on consumer decisions. This thesis describes the new necessities created by merchants, as “vicarious consumers”, inserted in local, national and international market circuits in the Western Mediterranean area. The increase in the consumption of new goods during the eighteenth century in south-eastern Spain, especially during the second half of the century, entailed changes in household economies through some improvements in everyday life. The systematic analysis of probate inventories demonstrates potential shifts in the consumption of new durable and semi-durable goods in urban and rural families. Certainly, in south-eastern Spain, there was an interest in consuming new, exotic and foreign goods.
The desires, aspirations and choices of individuals are demonstrated to have been inspired by a global movement, in which human and material capital circulated trans-continentally, shifting the patterns of consumption of societies - whose values and traditions were challenged by the acquisition of new material goods. I will not simply analyse those relevant theories applied to material culture studies related to Occidental or Oriental societies, such as the “industrious revolution” or “trickle-down” approaches (which have been applied mostly in developed economies to explain stages prior to the Industrial Revolution process). Instead, by observing a southern European society, such as Spain, where the industrialization process was slower than that in Anglo-Saxon territories, we may determine whether both theories occurred simultaneously or separately; identify what the socio-economic forces and agents that prompted the stimulus for new consumer aspirations were; and understand the cultural consequences that the new modern consumerism brought about.


Location:
Sala Triaria, Villa Schifanoia - SCHIFANOIA

Affiliation:
Department of History and Civilization

Type:
Thesis defence

Supervisor:
Prof. Bartolomé Yun Casalilla (EUI and Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Sevilla)

Examiner:
Professor Jan De Vries ( University of California Berkeley)
Prof. Luca Molà (EUI - Department of History and Civilization)
Prof. Gérard Chastagnaret (Université de Provence)

Defendant:
Manuel Pérez-García
 

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