University of Cologne, Department of History,
3/9/2009 – 5/9/2009
Economists characterize the retail trade clearly as part of the distribution system which is situated at the crucial linking position between the producer and the consumer. In
fact, the retail industry is a highly diverse business, segmented by types of business, distribution policies, different branches and locations, as well as assortments of goods. Looking at the history and changing function of retailing as the hinge between the production and the consumption sphere and its consequences for the social, economic and political life in the 20th century, opens up manifold perspectives for research. After the Second World War all West European countries entered into a path leading to an emerging mass consumer society. On the one hand they shared a very similar trend in the development of retailing and consumption. On the other hand national peculiarities became visible. But there is only very little knowledge about the historical background of recent trends as well as about the actors and the different types of retail trade. Not only for German historiography retailing is a strong desideratum. A lack of research has also been identified in the European and non-European context. Economic history still centers on the producing industry. Research in cultural history focuses on the consumer and practices of consumption. A special emphasis on the history of the retail trade linking both spheres doesn’t exist – general overviews as well as detailed empirical studies are lacking.
The workshop “Retailing in Europe after 1945” wants to bring together researchers from different countries who deal with the retail trade in the 20th century from the perspective of economic, social and cultural history. We want to offer an opportunity to exchange ideas and empirical findings in a workshop-style atmosphere. How did the structural transformation of the retail trade fit into the wider pattern of social, cultural, economic and political change during the second half of the 20th century? How did the retailing sector link the spheres of mass production and mass consumption? In a workshop style atmosphere the conference will offer a platform to discuss national case studies in a comparative perspective. We hope that this will be a useful contribution to strengthen the still blurry position of retailing in the broader context of a history of consumption. The conference is structured by four panels which will contain three or four presentations of 20 minutes each.
1. Americanization of retailing? – The introduction of
self-service in the grocery store
2. New and old places of consumption and modes of
3. Technical innovations in the retail trade
4. Professionalization of knowledge about the consumer,
merchandise and the world of consumption
Proposals should be submitted along with an abstract (1 page max.) and a C.V. by 31 of December 2008. The abstracts will be circulated among the participants of the conference in advance. Presentations should be given in English; the discussion will be in English or German. We plan to publish the revised conference papers in an edited volume in German language.
Professor Dr. Ralph Jessen
Historisches Seminar I
Universität zu Köln
Send comments and questions to H-Net
Webstaff. H-Net reproduces announcements that have been submitted to us as a
free service to the academic community. If you are interested in an announcement
listed here, please contact the organizers or patrons directly. Though we strive
to provide accurate information, H-Net cannot accept responsibility for the text of
announcements appearing in this service. (Administration)