Europe's mediation junction: technology and consumer society in the twentieth century

R. Oldenziel, A.A. Albert de la Bruhèze, O. Wit, de

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    This article reviews the literature on the relationship between consumption and technological development to understand the character of Europe's 20th-century trajectory, i.e. the hidden integration of Europe long before the formal process of unification started. Within the rich historiography, the paper focuses on the intersection between production and consumption, where a range of social actors and institutions sought to represent consumers and mediate consumption. It is at this juncture of mediation that social actors and institutions negotiated the mediated design and the appropriation of new products and technologies. The paper further historicizes the juncture of mediation by introducing the European politics of the state, marketplace, and civil society within the context of economic crises, world wars, revolutionary changes, post-war reconstruction, and cold war. By looking at the mediation junction, a conceptual frame is offered to understand the connection, the disconnection, or the reconfiguration of technologies and consumer identities in 20th-century Europe. In a final section, the article suggests new avenues for research to examine the hidden integration of Europe.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)107-139
    Number of pages33
    JournalHistory and Technology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2005


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