Cover image for Going shopping : consumer choices and community consequences
Going shopping : consumer choices and community consequences
Satterthwaite, Ann, 1931-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New Haven : Yale University Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
386 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Shopping through the ages -- Shopping, a community activity -- Shoppers, matching dreams with realities -- What's in store? -- Planning for shopping -- Shopping, a public concern.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HT151 .S262 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



We are how we shop. From Mesopotamian merchants and the fairs of medieval Europe to marble palace department stores and now Wal-Mart and the Internet, social, cultural, economic, and moral forces have shaped our shopping. In this engaging and generously illustrated book, Ann Satterthwaite traces the history of shopping and considers its meaning and significance.

According to Satterthwaite, shopping has become part of the American dream. To choose and to buy constitute not only a basic economic liberty but also the capacity to improve and transform ourselves. How we shop also reflects our culture, as in the twentieth century disposable incomes have grown, women's roles have changed, and new styles of shopping and advertising have made their impacts on an old adventure. But there is a downside. Shopping used to be a friendly business: shoppers and clerks knew each other, the country crossroads stores and downtown markets were social as much as economic hubs. Shopping was meshed with civic life--post offices, town halls, courts, and churches. In place of this almost vanished scene have come superstores and the franchises of international companies staffed by pressured clerks in featureless commercial wastelands. Shopping and community have been savagely divorced.

However, shopping as a social plus need not be lost, says Satterthwaite. Examining trends in the United States and abroad where new approaches to an old activity are strengthening its social and civic role, she states that shopping is more than ever a public concern with profound public impacts.

Author Notes

Ann Satterthwaite is a city planner in Washington, D.C.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

In this intriguing and well-researched book, Satterthwaite, a city planner in Washington, DC, provides an in-depth examination of the history and societal impacts of shopping. She explores shopping and retailing from farmers bartering their extra produce in ancient Mesopotamia to recent phenomena like superstores and e-commerce. Shopping, Satterthwaite argues, reflects the wider culture, and as incomes and free time have increased, women's roles have changed, and technology has evolved, shopping has fundamentally shifted as well. For centuries, shopping has been a social, community-based activity where shoppers interacted with friends and neighbors at a locally owned store on Main Street. The advent of nation-wide franchise discount stores, superstores, and e-commerce has stripped the act of shopping of any community. She ends with an examination of recent efforts in the United States and abroad to restore community interaction to the shopping process. Excellently written and well argued, Satterthwaite's book will make a fine addition to the collection of any academic or large public library. Mark Bay, Cumberland Coll. Lib., Williamsburg, KY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

In this engagingly written survey, Satterthwaite, a city planner, bemoans the severance of retailing from the diverse activities that make for a vibrant community, and the concomitant loss of sociability from the shopping experience. She calls for shoppers to break from the "shop-spend cycle," with shopping as either entertainment or competitive sport, and, as citizens, to urge elected officials to use their public powers to integrate shopping into the social and physical fabric of the community. Mainly focused on the US since WW II, though including examples from other places and times, Satterthwaite's book describes the rise of mass retailing and its spatial segregation (as in shopping malls); the shift to shopping for its own sake; the emergence of remote (e.g., e-commerce) shopping; the segregative impact of land use planning and regulations; the swing to "simplicity" and communal shopping experiences (e.g., public markets); and many other topics. She makes a strong case in this richly documented, well-produced, and amply illustrated book. In the spirit of Satterthwaite's argument, this reviewer encourage readers to go immediately to their nearest bookstore/cafe/community space and purchase this book. Once there, linger awhile, socialize a bit, and then go home to read it. Recommended for public, academic, and professional library collections. R. A. Beauregard New School for Social Research

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 1
Chapter 1 Shopping Through the Ages: How Rarities Become Commonplacep. 8
Chapter 2 Shopping: A Community Activityp. 64
Chapter 3 Shoppers: Matching Dreams with Realitiesp. 118
Chapter 4 What's in Store? Shopping in the Futurep. 171
Chapter 5 Planning for Shopping: An Insurance Policy for Community Well-Beingp. 241
Chapter 6 Shopping: A Public Concernp. 306
Notesp. 347
Bibliographyp. 361
Acknowledgmentsp. 375
Indexp. 377
Illustration Creditsp. 387