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Creating ConsumersHome Economists in Twentieth-Century America$
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Carolyn M. Goldstein

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780807835531

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807872383_goldstein

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Envisioning the Rational Consumer, 1900–1920

Envisioning the Rational Consumer, 1900–1920

(p.21) 1 Envisioning the Rational Consumer, 1900–1920
Creating Consumers

Carolyn M. Goldstein

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter examines the emergence of the home economics movement in the years before 1920. It situates the origins of home economics within the context of the Progressive Era reform, the emergence of American higher education, and the development of a modern consumer society. It begins by discussing the Lake Placid Conferences from 1899 to 1907, where professors and instructors from various academic fields proposed home economics as a subject that would shape the material conditions in American households by reforming women's role as consumers and securing the nation's standard of living according to middle-class values. It then discusses the teaching of rational consumption in the years between 1900 and 1920, a period when home economics professors started paying close attention to research and teaching strategies around consumption. By articulating the ethic of rational consumption, home economists linked notions of the ideal home with Progressive ideas about science, efficiency, and good citizenship.

Keywords:   home economics movement, Progressive Era, consumer, Lake Placid Conferences, home economics, rational consumption, consumption

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