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Engineered to SellEuropean Émigrés and the Making of Consumer Capitalism$
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Jan L. Logemann

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226660011

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226660295.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 04 August 2021

The Origins of “Consumer Engineering”: Interwar Consumer Capitalism in Transatlantic Perspective

The Origins of “Consumer Engineering”: Interwar Consumer Capitalism in Transatlantic Perspective

Chapter:
(p.20) One The Origins of “Consumer Engineering”: Interwar Consumer Capitalism in Transatlantic Perspective
Source:
Engineered to Sell
Author(s):

Jan L. Logemann

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226660295.003.0002

This chapter first contextualizes the notion of “consumer engineering” within broader developments in interwar marketing and mass consumption. The impact of marketing innovations in styling and consumer psychology can only be understood against the backdrop of American consumer society. As the Depression hit the systematic creation of demand became of interest to industry and state alike. In addition, Interwar preoccupation with efficiency and rationalization of socioeconomic processes, finally, dovetailed with a circumscribed but growing fascination with modernist forms and functionalist designs, part of a broader aestheticization of American commercial culture. Much more than often assumed, this was a transatlantic story. Interwar Americans still looked to Europe and while American goods and advertisers spread across the globe during the 1920s, European metropolitan centers held their own with regard to retail facilities and modern methods of sales and advertising. Focusing on Germany and Central Europe, the chapter traces European marketing developments during the interwar years, emphasizing the prominent role of public institutions and social reform movements for experts in commercial design and consumer research. When some experts in design and social research were forced out of Europe by the rise of National Socialism, they brought new marketing knowledge to the United States.

Keywords:   consumer engineering, design modernism, advertising, social engineering, european emigres, great depression

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