This book is the first comprehensive history of consumerism as an organised social and political movement. Matthew Hilton offers a groundbreaking account of consumer movements, ideologies and organisations in twentieth-century Britain. He argues that in organisations such as the Co-operative movement and the Consumers' Association individual concern with what and how we spend our wages led to forms of political engagement too often overlooked in existing accounts of twentieth-century history. He explores how the consumer and consumerism came to be regarded by many as a third force in society with the potential to free politics from the perceived stranglehold of the self-interested actions of employers and trade unions. Finally he recovers the visions of countless consumer activists who saw in consumption a genuine force for liberation for women, the working class and new social movements as well as a set of ideas often deliberately excluded from more established political organisations.

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