This oral history conference will examine the impact of changing lifestyles, leisure, consumption and the development of the ‘consumer society’. The emergence of a ‘consumer society’ raises important questions about changes in political, corporate and consumer power, the influence of the media, individual and group identity, the relation between choice, freedom and regulation, ethical consumption, pleasure and desire, the changing role of leisure and the relationship between consumption and production. ‘Consumer society’ is often thought of as a contemporary phenomenon but oral history provides an excellent means of exploring the historical dimensions of consumption and consumer culture. Holding the conference in Sheffield, a city whose wealth was founded on the coal and steel industries, will allow us to reflect on whether oral history can capture local, regional, national and global shifts from production to consumption-based economies and cultures.
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